Friday, September 12, 2014

This Month? in Gaming

It hasn't been quite a month since I posted one of these, but almost. September and October are always busy months for me and my family: my wife has classes to teach and plays to direct, back to school for my son, kids birthdays, conferences, travel, and plenty of other things that promise to upset my ability to game as well as my ability to write blog posts. So, what have we missed these past few weeks?

Recommended Blog Reading:

Some great inspiration for female characters...
If you have not seen Rejected Princesses you should go check it out. Ostensibly dedicated to female characters that would never make it into a Disney princess movie, the site presents well-researched short bios of strong females from throughout history along with excellent illustrations (in an intentionally Disney-esque but historically accurate style). The past few weeks alone have featured such characters as Ching Shih (an infamous female pirate from China) and Tomyris (the Scythian queen who defeated Cyrus the Great).

If you are ever in need of a female character (PC or NPC) guaranteed to kick a lot of ass, this site is a great source of both ideas and imagery.

Not-quite Real Magic in RPGs...
The Pundit has been posting an interesting series of articles on "Real Magic in RPGs", addressing some of the strange practices that real-world occultists and wanna-be magicians get themselves involved in: DivinationYogaMagical Journals, and other such things. While I find this mildly interesting, one of my players really latched onto the idea of the journal in particular and started a series of in-character posts intended to be the obsessive journaling of the wizard she is playing. I really like where she has gone with it so far, mostly focusing on conjuration and trying to address, in character, various things like magical gestures and somatic components for spells, the correct layouts of magical circles and wards, snippets of incantations, and also some tidbits of what is going on in the campaign.

I really like to encourage this kind of behavior (i.e. writing things in character that expand upon the story being told), so I think I may need to implement some kind of tangible reward system for it. Maybe have the journal replace the need for in-game cash and time spent researching new spells? Maybe a bonus to earned experience? Automatic acquisition of spells related to the journal content?

I'll have to work on this and maybe post more about it later.

Art history class like you've never experienced it before...
Zak has been running a series on "Art History for D&D People." It is awesome, you should go read it. So far he has covered Ancient artMedieval art, and the Rennaisance, and more are on the way. Even if you are somehow not into D&D, you should go check it out simply for his insights into the nature of art and a look at some interesting concepts, forms, and byblows not usually covered in the standard corpus of art studies (with an obvious bent towards the monstrous).

An RPG Charter of Freedoms and Principles
Another from the RPG Pundit. In the aftermath of "consultant-gate", Pundit proposed this charter, to lay some basic ground rules for discussion of the hobby on the internets. Obviously one cannot expect all the people associated with the hobby to actually adhere to such a thing, but it is a useful basis for "discussing the issues inherent in the discussion" (as self referential as that may be). Here is the abbreviated version:
0. The hobby is open to everyone. Everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other quality are welcome to participate in the hobby.  Everyone has an inherent right to equal treatment...
1. Everyone in the hobby has an inherent right to say and express what they want.  We oppose censorship on principle, within the reasonable bounds of legality...
2. Everyone likewise has the right to criticize statements made by anyone else...within the boundaries of legality and truthfulness. 
3. There is no right to lie...There is no "right to not be offended".
4. We oppose harassment, persecution, stalking...etc.
5. ...A person has no "right to not be questioned".
There has already been some discussion of the discussion, as it were, and this has had a week or two to stew. Let it be said that I (meaningless as it may be as someone unlikely to wade into the midst of such controversies) do hereby undersign my support for the basic concepts and premise of the above charter.

In Other News:

There may soon be a video game that lets you code your own spells...
The not particularly creatively named Codespells is currently in the crowd funding stage, with the promise of a September 2015 release. The goal of the game is to teach basic coding skills in using a javascript interface that lets the player build or customize their use of magic. If you are already a skilled coder, the game promises to be the "ultimate spellcasting sandbox". Looks like it should be pretty cool and definitely worth throwing $10 or $15 dollars at.

What I've Been Playing:

From one game to four
My Ruins of Adventure game has expanded again. I now have four games running in parallel, and they are all back in full swing (so expect to see some play reports for them soon). Two games are running 2nd edition, two are running 5th edition, and I am VERY impressed by how well the two mesh. 5th edition really does feel like the proper successor to AD&D v2, having just skipped over 3rd and 4th (while boring a couple of useful things from the latter).

The various groups traipsing around the Moonsea can be summarized as:

  • The Herald and the Expatriates (play-by-email, AD&D 2nd edition): In transit between Phlan and Melvaunt. Getting ready to fight an all-out war against the kobold kingdom.
  • The Bitter Blades (G+ hangout, AD&D 2nd edition): Palling around Phlan and spending the fruits of the recent heroic acts.
  • Inquisitor Faustus (G+ hangout, solo adventure, 5th edition): Skulking around Hillsfar dealing with plagues, demons, and corrupt governments while trying to plan a one-man assault on the infamous Zhentil Keep.
  • Valkur's Wake (face-to-face, 5th edition):  Traveling between Phlan and Hillsfar, press-ganging settlers into coming to coming to Phlan by whatever means are necessary.

Let the collective mayhem commence!