Posts Tagged ‘Gaming Culture’

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Game Theory – Charming Morals (or the Morality of the Charm)

19 May, 2020

Is it charming?My, it has been a while since I did one of these.  I was reading a discussion on social media where it called out the original designers of D&D as essentially bad people for having included charm spells in D&D.  That seemed . . . well wrong to me. As I believe charms were included as part of the long tradition of such magics in myths, tales and legends not for any other reason.

Thus this discussion which is focused on the GM’s use of charm magic:

To start with, Charm spells and their variants (love potions, suggestion, dominate, and so many more) are troubling, deeply so in fact because they take away one of the primary aspects that make playing roleplaying games fun:

Agency/Autonomy, when your character is under the effects of such a spell, you (the player) are not getting to play the character you signed up for.  You are being forced to act against your will and it is just not enjoyable.  This is an extremely important point, such effects basically steal the character from the player for the duration and is very likely a “you do not have fun” moment for the player.  Do not do that, it is rude and will stress the social bonds of the group.

Now, some people will say, well just get rid of Charms all together.  This is an option but using magic to subvert peoples’ control / emotions / will has a long tradition in myths and legends and is a good indication that anyone doing so is evil.  Arguably, fear of such control is one of the reasons people have historically been so afraid of the idea of magic, if it can make you do things you do not want to do or want to do something so much that you violate laws and morality, it is something deeply terrifying.  Again, depending on your group, these may not be subjects they people wish to explore but they can be interesting and terrifying to encounter in a game setting.

Now, there are still ways to use Charm effects successfully in a game, but you need to warn the players and get them onboard first. For example:

The Big Bad has enacted a powerful ritual that gives them control over the Royal army, the characters are part of the army so . . . If the players agree, they get caught up in the spell.  Montage of autocratic control over the land and then the character end up somewhere that breaks them from the spell.  Now, they have to try an free their home from the Big Bad, possibly while being concerned with the safety of their former comrades, possibly (if people want to) grappling with the terrible things they did while controlled.

Or:

The Evil Noble wants to get the Royal to marry them and slips them a love potion . . . it works!  And the characters have to free the Royal from the induced false love before something terrible happens.  Or, the comedy approach, thing go wrong and one of player characters now has a Royal in love with them or has fallen in love with the Evil Noble (or both!).  The humor version requires a light touch on everyone’s behalf though.

Some players will still not be be willing to let their characters be charmed (or love potioned).  Do not force them, it is impolite and not being a good friend.  But others will enjoy the chance to try something different with their character.

As always, communication is king.  Talk to your players to learn what they want to see and try in your game and what they definitely do not want.

Notes: Another in my occasional discussion of game theory.

Image A strange portrait from “Spring-heel’d Jack: the Terror of London. A romance of the nineteenth century. From the The British LibraryPublic Domain Mark.

 

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Sean’s GenCon Advice 2019

11 July, 2019

GenCon!GenCon is about three weeks away (where did the year go?), so, I thought I would (again) share my hard-earned experience and try and help out people who are going as I do every year.

Preparation:

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Campaign Stat Block – Star Signs (Shadowrun)

20 April, 2019

Inspired by the Planejammer ChroniclesCampaign Stat Block for framing a campaign, I made my own (comments welcome).  I have not done one of these for a while I thought I would adapt it for my upcoming Shadowrun sub-campaign.

Shadowrun – Star Signs

Start with a bangA group of runners new to the Seattle shadows have been brought together by the fixer, Star, to help them gather pieces of a puzzle involving the megacorps.  They will help you find your place in the shadows in exchange for help with their goal.

Setting: This will be set in the Shadowrun version of Seattle, starting in 2074.
•    Continuity: Episodic with arcs.
•    Rating: PG in general, some unpleasant situation may be touched upon but will not be the focus of the campaign.
•    Style: Adventure, investigation and crime with occasion social situations.
•    Tone: Action-adventure.

Rules: Shadowrun 5.

Characters: All Core metatypes, magic traditions and upgrades are available, if you want something from outside of core, let us talk first.  A zodiac/astrology theme is suggested for street names but not required.
•    Character History: A paragraph or two about who your character is and where they are from.  Characters will have worked together, at least a run or two, before the first game so I would like some PbtA style ties between all the characters.
•    Starting Power Level: Street Level, if you want to play a decker, rigger or street samurai, we will work out some extra equipment or ware for you.

Where do we Play?: Tyche’s Games, Thursday, 6-9ish PM.
•    Down Times: Players are welcome to have their character undertake tasks between games, communication via written note or email for such so it does not slow down our limited face to face gaming time.
•    Social Contract: Usual for our group.

Notes: Photo “Happy New Year from Seattle, Washington’s Space Needle, USA – pink and white” by Wonderlane is licensed under CC by 2.0.

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Sean’s GenCon Advice 2018

19 July, 2018

GenCon - An Epic Level EventGenCon is just about two weeks away, so, I thought I would (again) share my hard-earned experience and try and help out people who are going as I do every year.

Preparation:

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June RPG Blog Carnival – “Why do I love RPGs? Why do I love GMing?”

30 June, 2018

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival is on a the wonderful theme of “Why do you love RPGs? Why do you love GMing?” hosted by Campaign Mastery.

I have been a gamer for most of my life, it is my primary and favorite hobby, starting way back in 1977 at the age of ten when my mother pointed out that the library in Eugene, Oregon, where I lived at the time, had a wargaming club on Saturdays.  It was there I first encountered D&D and I was immediately hooked.  Over the years I have watched the hobby grow from a closet obsession of people on the fringe, survive a “Satanic Panic” where good-meaning but mean-spirited people tried to stamp out the hobby, to watching the lexicon of our hobby (and our title “gamers”) snatched from us by the video game industry and now the rise of RPGs as a spectator sport over various internet platforms.  What a long strange trip it has been, but oh, so much fun.

What do I like and love about RPGs?  The freedom to do and be what you can imagine and do it all in the company of friends.  You get to have adventures, many of which will become fun stories of heroism and chaos in retrospect, from the safety of your (or your friend’s) home or other friendly meeting place.  I enjoy the chance to see other worlds through the eyes of imaginary people, and sometime playing around with rules systems too, but mostly it is the joint adventuring and story-telling that I find fun.

What do I like and love about GMing?  Much the same as for being a player.  But this time instead of being an actor or co-author, I get to be the primary author or director.  I set the stage for the game to play out on, with the input of the other players, and we have a great adventure together.  When it all works right, it is quite magical, and when it just works, it is still fun.

There is more I could write, but that is the essence and I want to get it in before the deadline.

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Looking Back at GenCon 50 (2017)

30 August, 2017

Well, I am mostly recovered from my experience at GenCon 50 and the trip back, so thought it was time to write things up before it all falls from my head.

Days -2 and -1 were travel towards Indianapolis, early morning arrival and working setup on the AEG booth in the exhibit hall.  Busy but not very exciting but we did get most of the setup done on Tuesday which was a great achievement.

Learning to play

Cat Lady in progress

Day 0, Wednesday, is the real beginning of the convention in many ways these days.  Had a few moments to wonder the halls, found  some of the Goodman Games crew bagging old Appendix N paperbacks for sale and we had a good discussion about Poul Anderson.  Also ran across and talked with author Marion G. Harmon, author of Wearing the Cape, a novel about superheroes (which I am currently reading and enjoying), and the FATE-Based RPG of the same title, which was fun.  We finished up setup and I had a chance to learn many, many AEG games such as Oath of the Brotherhood, Custom Heroes (from the designer himself), the Captain is Dead, 60 Seconds to Save the World and Cat Lady (better than it sounds, I promises).  Howard and I had our traditional Tuesday night meal in the Ram, which was good but not as good as previous years, which I blame on eating in the lounge rather than the restaurant proper but lesson learned.  Daniel Griego of Inner Kingdom Games dropped by my Shadowfist kickstarter rewards which are much appreciated.

Day 1, Thursday, works begins after some Bee Coffee.  Dashed through the exhibitors’ hall to grab a GenCon dice set for one of the other demo team members. then teaching Istanbul (not Constantinople), oddly, even though They Might Be Giants were performing at GenCon, no one made that comment all con.  During my break, off the get lost in the exhibitors’ hall and try to catch up with some people I know who might be there.  Visited Drew Baker‘s booth and checked out his new art, ended up buying a playmat which I cannot find a picture of at his site but L5Rish in theme.  Honestly, all a bit of a blur, but I did hit up the Catalyst booth for a Maria Mercurial Tour (an iconic rocker from the Shadowrun setting) t-shirt.  Then back to work, general helping then session 2 of Istanbul, yes, expect to see that game mentioned a lot over this. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Sean’s GenCon Advice 2017

2 August, 2017

GenCon is about two weeks away, so, I thought I would (again) share my hard-earned experience and try and help out people who are going.

Preparation:

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What Character Archetypes do you enjoy playing, reprised.

24 March, 2017

We were discussing what character types our current group tend to gravitate to, so I thought I would repost this article and see what people think of it (almost seven years later):

The Naive Expert / Talented Innocent

Who to be today?This is one of my favorite character conceptions, someone who is very, very skilled in a specific field but naive about the greater world.  These character are very good at what they do and very confident of their own abilities in their field and totally lost once they step out of that narrowly defined area.  They are usually young and without much in the way of social or combat skills, at least at the start.

Why play this archetype?

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Sean’s GenCon Advice 2016

14 July, 2016

GenCon is about three weeks away, so, I thought I would (again) share my hard-earned experience and try and help out people who are going.

Preparation:

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Sean’s GenCon Advice, 2015 Edition

9 July, 2015

The start of GenCon is only three weeks away.  So, I thought I would share my hard-earned experience and try and help out people who are going.

Preparation:

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