Archive for October, 2011


Gaming in Review

October 11, 2011

In the last two years, I’ve played or ran:

– 2 campaigns of Primetime Adventures
– A multisession adventure of Mouse Guard
– A full Apocalypse World campaign
– A one-off AW game
– A con game of Bliss Stage
– 2 sessions of Hot Guys Making Out
– A one-shot PTA session
– A one-shot of the Ecology of the Mud Dragon
– 2 story arcs of Sorcerer (Sorcerer/Exalted)
– A few sessions of Burning Wheel
– Jumped into session of CAPEs
– Attempted a PBEM game of Blood & Honor (crumbled due to time constraints on everyone)
– A couple of one shots of 4E D&D
– I’m sure I’m forgetting some other one-shots as well…

…and I’m about to get into short D&D campaign.


Sorcerer Exalted: Now with Dogs in the Vineyard!

October 11, 2011

My ongoing Sorcerer/Exalted game has been going better – we’ve worked out the technical kinks, and mostly it’s about me keeping on top of scene control and, basically putting my hand in the mix to keep the momentum up.

One of the things I realized after prepping for this week is how much the Town set up advice from Dogs in the Vineyard has been guiding my prep for this game as well.

The short version of the DITV advice is: In a community, there’s an injustice of some sort, a reaction, and between all this, either the community is about to fall apart, has fallen apart, or is so radically changed from expectations that it forms a problem in and of itself.

In the case of Exalted’s setting, the fun thing is that I can have a lot of options to play with the idea:

1) People vs. People (Imperial injustice, local power plays, intrigue amongst Dragonblooded)
2) Spirits & Gods vs. People (failure to sacrifice, failure to protect, protection turned to tyranny, angry spirits, etc.)
3) Past lives vs. People (Solar Exalted’s past excesses, injustices committed against the Exalted, etc.)

Now that I’ve got this consciously in mind, next go around will be really interesting.


Bait & Switch – really?

October 8, 2011

There’s an entire thread on Bait & Switch gaming.

Let’s think about the fact that you’re asking 3-5 of your friends to take several hours out of their time, to come play a game with you, on a regular basis. There’s a level of commitment folks need to do to get that going. They’re coming because they’re excited to play a game, and then you change the game on them.

What does that do for the trust levels in the group? Is that a respectful response to people putting together time to come play with you?

Time to quote myself:

Games work because the people playing want to play this game. Implicit in this agreement is that we’re all actually interested in this game, we want it to work, we want it to be fun. It’s really easy because we’re all working together to make it happen.

If my friends are playing Poker and I want to play Hearts, I have two choices: Play Poker and get whatever I get from it, or play with them another time when my mood and their game matches.

What isn’t a functional choice is for me to play half-assed, or worse, sabotage the game. It’s also not ok for me to suddenly start trying to play Hearts in the middle of their game. That’s me breaking the agreement to play the game in the first place.

On the flip side, if I was told we’re going to play Hearts and suddenly we’re playing Poker, the agreement about what game we’re playing got broken going the other way.

At the core of both of these behaviors is a lack of trust.

“I don’t trust you enough to tell you how I feel about what I find fun” and “I don’t trust you enough to tell you the truth to make your own decisions about what you find fun”.

That’s a terrible place from which to try to build any activity of fun. For it all being “just a game” that’s a lot of distrust and dishonesty.

If you can’t honestly talk about the game, something is wrong.

Fun is reliably had when people are doing what they want to do- not because they’re tolerating it to please their friends, not because they’re secretly hoping for another activity, not because someone else is trying to “show” or “convince” them.


Hot Guys Making Out

October 3, 2011

I got to play Ben Lehman’s Hot Guys Making Out – the yaoi game of a nobleman and his ward falling in love and getting it on.

It’s a ton of fun, and, I think showcases how much more we can do with romance and roleplaying. Also! It may be the first queer focused roleplaying game that gets published (I’d love to hear if others exist!).

HGMO uses standard playing cards with the Jokers included. There’s a unique property about HGMO: you can never fail. The cards aren’t whether you succeed or not – they exist to limit what things you can DO in the scene and to pace the scene.

There’s 3 regular things you can do on your turn during play:

– Describe your character acting decisively and effectively
– Talking about your feelings, or inner monologue
– Describe the scene/environment

Thing is, the two principal characters are limited in these – the noble can’t talk about his feelings or emotional landscape without certain cards, and the ward can’t act effectively without certain cards – so you find yourself forced into situations in play where the tension exists solely because of this divide in ability and communication.

There’s also 3 special cases which do things as well:
– The ward can increase the emotional intimacy of the relationship by playing a Queen
– The noble can increase the physical intimacy of the relationship by playing a King
– Anyone can increase the Threat to the relationship by playing an Ace.

As you can see, the game enforces the Seme/Uke roles pretty hard core.

So, the cards serve as creative constraints, pacing devices, and stop you from simply solving situations. Also – there’s no character sheets, no stats, no hitpoints, and no character based resources – everything is based on fictional positioning/Story Capital per Emily Care Boss.

There’s no rules telling you how far to take any given description. Our game was pretty tame, though it involved a horse riding rescue and later applying healing salve to wounds along the back from the maid beating the ward. Ben noted other groups play super raunchy from the get go.

Anyway, this is a damn fun game and I recommend it highly. You can play in short rounds and it doesn’t take long and the rules are pretty easy to pick up.