Over the past few months, I have written a few posts at the World Hopping blog about my experiences of really getting into roleplay after about a decade and a half of dipping the occasional, tentative toe into that hobby. I feel that I have accumulated a lot of experience over the last few months, trying out a good range of games and reading many more. I’ve particularly enjoyed Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, and the opportunity to act as storyteller/GM for the first time in a game of Vampire: The Masquerade. I am also looking forward to trying Rogue Trader again very soon after the disappointment of our first attempt.
Despite this, or perhaps as a result of it, I am thirsty for more. I really want to explore more systems, experience more stories and try to improve my GM skills. I feel that my Vampire game has been a particularly good learning experience and I am getting far better at facilitating the collaborative storytelling process that is central to every RPG.
My goal going forward, and this may become a new year resolution, will be to try to have at least one RP session every week. This may be in person, which would be preferable, or it may be over Skype. I am going to make a point of seeking out more players, whether they are experienced roleplayers or newbies who have never thrown a dice with more than six sides.
Not counting my ongoing Vampire game and the upcoming Rogue Trader, these are the games I would like to play in the next year:
- Fiasco - possibly using a custom playset. Fiasco is a really cool looking, no-GM RPG intended to be played through in a single session with very little prep. Given the lack of GM to guide things along, I would prefer to play this one with more experienced players.
- World of Darkness – the core book that deals with mortals in the nWOD. I would like to run a mortal campaign as an alternative to systems like Call of Cthulhu which seem to get bogged down in too many rules and stats. This would be a great campaign for new players, as it draws on the World of Darkness mythos, but does not require knowledge of the setting. Actually, if you are playing as a mortal, experiencing the hidden horrors of the world for the first time, ignorance of the wider setting may be a bonus.
- Changeling: The Lost, Demon: The Descent, Promethean: The Created, Orpheus or Geist: The Sin-Eaters – basically any of the less common World of Darkness games. I really love the background to these titles and would like the opportunity to explore them further.
- The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen: just a fun little storytelling game of tall tales. Single session fun
These are just a few of the systems I have been reading through and am keen to try. I would like to try others, but I think I am going to make these, and the continuation of my Vampire game, a priority.
I have a new post on the World Hopping blog about actual play recordings of tabletop RPGs and where to find them.
This week’s post is a bit of a linkdump. I have spoken a lot about roleplaying games over the last couple of months and about how to get started as both a player and as a GM. Today, I’m going to link you to some really great resources to help you get your head around tabletop RPGs and maybe whet your appetite to get into it or, if you are already a roleplayer, to perhaps try something new.
Many websites and podcasts now create and host recorded RPG play sessions, in the same way that video game fans post Let’s Play videos. As with the Let’s Play videos, these recordings can range from incredibly polished, professional affairs to more basic, amateur endeavours.
My attention was drawn this evening to an article over at The Grauniad (The Guardian for those who do not read the Eye) discussing your favourite topic and mine. It is entitled “Board games’ golden age: sociable, brilliant and driven by the internet” and discusses the current state of the tabletop hobby.
It does start off a little weaksauce, with the usual attitude of “hey, in the time of video games, it turns out that board games are still a thing! Remember those? Who’d have thunk it?”, but this is quickly replaced by a tour of some key hobby titles, a few comments on design, some assorted quotes from industry insiders and a slightly long segment on Qwirkle. Don’t get me wrong, I love Qwirkle. I especially enjoy playing Qwirkle with children, but I also think it is a tad overrated and not really deserving of the Spiel Des Jahres award it received. That said, it’s good to see it, and others such as Pandemic, Ugg-Tect, Dead of Winter and Freedom: The Underground Railroad get a bit of mainstream recognition for a change.
One paragraph I particularly liked reads:
But players and designers are keen to suggest another reason for the hobby’s resurgence. Games are simply getting better. Publishers are turning out products with elegant mechanics and impressive artwork as fast as their customers can snap them up. Board games are going through a golden age.
The related articles section at the bottom of the page also provided interesting and reassuring reading, showing that The Guardian (it has earned the correct spelling today) has actually given a fair bit of coverage to the tabletop hobby in recent months and years with articles such as:
- Why board games are making a comeback
- All aboard – how Ticket To Ride helped save table-top gaming
- Board games don’t just bring us together – they remind us how to play
It’s nice to see some mainstream coverage of what is, despite a tremendous amount of growth over the past few years, still a very niche hobby.
I have a new post on the World Hopping blog about the print books vs. digital books debate as it relates to roleplaying materials.
I have mixed feelings about digital books. On the one hand, I really like the idea of them and I definitely like the convenience of being able to pop online and get pretty much whatever you want at a moment’s notice. I am not so keen on eBook readers, however, and you just can’t beat the tactile experience of picking up a book on impulse from your shelf and leafing through it.
The Problem with Print
With the recent rekindling (hah, I’m talking about digital book and I said rekindling! It’s funny because Kindle! That’s an ebook reader, you see. Oh fine, whatever, let’s continue) of my interest in RPG books, this topic has been on my mind as, more and more, RPG publishers seem to be shifting towards digital distribution for their game materials. RPGs have never been particularly well represented in mainstream book shops, with the possible exception of the now-defunct Ottakers chain where I purchased several of my old World of Darkness books. If you want to find a roleplaying game you really need to visit a specialist store (for Scottish readers, I recommend Edinburgh’s Black Lion Games, Glasgow’s Static Games and Stirling’s Common Ground Games) or online retailer. Distribution and exposure is therefore an issue that impacts heavily on the viability of print copies of RPGs, as is the fact that roleplaying is, when it comes right down to it, a very niche hobby. It’s easy to see why the publisher would consider digital distribution to be an attractive option.
I have a new post at the World Hopping blog in which I recount some details of my first experience of being a GM.
In our last thrilling instalment, I was preparing to GM my first game of Vampire: The Masquerade(none of this Requiem nonsense, mind) with a group of friends at our local games club.
So, aye, that actually went rather well.
I’m not going to give a full account of everything that happened because reasons, but I do want to share a few brief thoughts. First and foremost, the heavy reading and other prep work I had done in advance of the game very much paid off. I was very sure of most aspects of the setting and the characters I had to introduce. I also felt that once I was there, sitting at the table, I actually had a much better grasp of the rules than I thought I did. I had a handle of skill checks and dice pools and blood points in a way that I didn’t think I did beforehand. Maybe it was just getting into it and chucking some dice around rather than treating it as an abstract thing.
I have a new post over at the World Hopping Blog in which I prepare for my first session as a Vampire: The Masquerade GM/Storyteller.
Although I’ve only recently taken the plunge into playing tabletop role playing games, I’ve had a number of RPG books haunting my shelves for over a decade, just waiting to be played. White Wolf’s beautiful core books for Exalted, Vampire: the Masquerade and Mage: the Ascension have been part of my collection since I was at school. Ditto for the past couple of editions of Dungeons and Dragons, an armful of All Flesh Must be Eaten books and Steve Jackson’s delightful Discworld GURPS. I can’t say they were really used, but they were appreciated. They were read and some were even understood to some degree.
When it came to choosing a system to run as my first game as GM, it seemed natural that I select not from the shiny new books that I have recently amassed, but rather one of the battered and slightly dog-eared books that have sat so patiently on my shelf, just waiting for a group of players who would engage with them and appreciate their value. After discussing several options with my players, it was decided that I should run a game of Vampire: the Masquerade.