Thursday, August 8, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Obscure

Today's topic is Obscure.

Again I am going with a different version of the word because this made me think of Pink Floyd's "Obscured by Clouds".  A very, very underrated album and one semi-central to my D&D playing years.

Obscured by Clouds was released in 1972, a year before their landmark album Dark Side of the Moon.  Now I could write a dissertation on Dark Side, and many have.  But that is not today's post.

ObC was a softer album, but in it are the seeds of what the "new" Pink Floyd became planted in the very fertile ground of the older psychedelic Pink Floyd.

My first DM, the guy that ran me through so many adventures of D&D Expert combined with AD&D, turned me on to this album.  We were both huge Pink Floyd fans and Dark Side was my favorite album. I would go over to his house to play D&D but before we would play, like so many kids in the 80s, we went out on our bikes first.

He lived near the Capitol Records plant so we would rummage around the loading doc and always find a cassette or two that never made it on to the trucks.  Mostly things like Kenny Rogers, but every so often a gem like Iron Maiden or Kraftwerk (Capitol was EMI's American counterpart).  If we were REALLY lucky we would score a Pink Floyd cassette.  Especially since Floyd had left Capitol/EMI for Columbia/CBS Records in the mid 70s.

Obscured by Clouds was a soundtrack of sorts to the film La Vallée (The Valley).  But to my young and unsophisticated ears, it was the soundtrack of an older adventurer.  Someone that had adventured,  loved, lost and now lay dying only with his regrets.

Nothing characterized that better for me than the song Free Four.  Sure it is about the recording industry and Roger Waters singing (again) about his dead dad.  But in the early 80s it was more than that to me.

Floyd would continue to be an inspiration to me when playing although I can't draw a direct line from them to anything I have created like I can with Stevie Nicks or the Police or Led Zeppelin.

Still. To this day, listening to Floyd makes me think of D&D games gone by.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Familiar

Today's topic is Familiar.

Again, I think I'll make a hard turn here and talk about Familiars; as in animal familiars, not something that is familiar.

I have talked a lot about familiars here. Books on familiars, spells for familiars, and what familiars could do for witches and wizards.

Sometimes I have pondered doing a book on just familiars. An OSR books for both witches and magic-users/wizards.  I'd include animal companions for druids as well.

But there are already good books out there for that and most of what I have wanted to add have been already added to my various witch books.  So maybe there is no need.

Still. It could be fun.

What do you all think?  Would this be something anyone is interested in?  I wouldn't do it if I didn't add a bunch of new material.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Ancient

Today's topic is Ancient.

I have to admit my first thought when hearing this is not Ancient tomes or civilizations, but the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, also known as The KLF.

This post is not about The KLF per se, but it is about what made them work.

Take their song, Justified and Ancient (Stand By The JAMs).  What do we have in this? Electronica of the early 90s. Singing, some rapping, and right in the middle of it all?  Tammy Wynette, credited as "The First Lady of County" and not all looking out of place.


Seriously though, have a look.

WHY do I bring this up?

Simple.  Sometimes things work that should never work on paper.  So combine things in your game that may or may not make any sense.  Sure sometimes you get Peanut Butter and Ketchup (or Peanut Butter and Furniture Polish) other times you get Peanut Butter and Chocolate.

And like the KLF slap a thin veneer of "ancient" on it.  Like claiming to have been in contact with the ancient Masters of Mu.

Essentially isn't this a plot point in Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum? (something that should be assigned reading for anyone writing a modern horror or conspiracy theory game.)

Don't be afraid to mix it up.  Add new stuff. Add old stuff. Add really weird stuff.
Be like the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu.

Monday, August 5, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Space

Today's topic is Space.

Space can mean a lot of things.  I was originally going to go with Space as in Outer Space. Space the Final Frontier Space. But instead, I would rather talk about my gaming space.

I have shared "shelfies" in the past because they are kind of fun, but I do really love my gaming space.

This didn't happen overnight or even in a few years. It happed with careful collecting and of course getting two Ph.D.s and a job where I can afford a house for this and the custom shelves.

Growing up this was my dream. To have my own library or study where I can sit with my books. I have everything I need to read and research my games here. Comfortable chairs and wicked fast internet speeds.  I love a place where I can play and have a dedicated room to do it.

My kids have their friends over all the time and there are anywhere from 3 to 4 games being run in my house every week!  It means though they are living the stereotype of gaming in their parent's basement!

Not to bad really. Of course, I work all the time and only get to enjoy it a little myself!

Next project for my game space?  I am going to tear out all the old lighting and replace them with LEDs.  Also get my HD projector mounted on a swivel arm for either projecting on the walls or on the table for maps.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Back from Gen Con!

I just got back from Gen Con 2019!

Took the whole family and we had a great time.  In fact, it was one of the best Gen Cons in recent memory.  We played a lot of D&D 5 and Call of Cthulhu 7th ed.  I got in a game of Blue Rose and a public playtest of Cthulhu Tech 2.0.

More details later. Tired and needing some Chicago style pizza.  Indy is great, but their pizza sucks.

#RPGaDAY2019: Share

Today's topic is Share.

One of the reasons I have a blog is my desire to share what I do with others.
This hobby has given me a lot of joy and despite the occasional bad actor out there I still consider it a largely positive endeavor.

You sit around a table telling each other stories about a shared construction.  We all contribute.  I don't care if you don't consider yourself a "Story gamer" or not.  We are participating in something that is ancient, primal even. We each tell our stories, whether that is around a table with dice or around a fire at night in some far forgotten age and place.

We share with each other and I want to share with you.

So I post stuff here. Sometimes good, sometimes...well sometimes some ideas need more work.
I am not going to do a Patreon site, because that is not what I am about.
I'll still sell books because that allows me to pay for art and buy more books to share with you all.

And really. Isn't the point of all of this to share some fun?

Saturday, August 3, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Engage

Today's topic is Engage.

How do you engage your players?

When I am running a new game with new people I will often drop them into the middle of combat.  This is a trick I learned when I was writing and promoting Ghosts of Albion.   To get the players used to the new system I would put them into a situation where they didn't need to worry about character, they could get a handle on the rules fast and combat in Ghosts is easy.

In other games, I try to focus on the strengths of the game. For example, Mage (either one) is less about reality-warping magic and more the people that have this power.  So here I want to get the players to think about what makes their characters do what they want.  In D&D similarily, why do these characters what to leave the comforts of home and go out on an adventure?  In Call of Cthulhu what makes the characters want to investigate these horrors they know will likely get them killed?

Engagement is the key. Getting people to the table is part of the task, but keeping them there is the difficult part. Keeping them coming back for more, that's the work of a master.

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