Monday, April 28, 2008

Fluff... the stuff which either fills in space or just becomes the very space which makes something either lightweight or pretty filled in the right places.

Just cruised around the forum boards of RPG.NET for any interesting reading for ideas and reviews and came across this thread. The mention of crunch (game mechanics, rules and math for the not-so-gamer savvy) made me recall an entry I did on my blog here. Its a bit of debate necromancy as to the GNS model of gaming since time immemorial when critical analysis of games have brought to bear on how games were conducting in spite its very obvious and earlier tabletop wargaming roots. But anyways I will not dwell on something that's been-there, done-that and the ever usual spark of violent combustibility for a flamewar of sorts, I'll just examine and discuss what fluff would do or help in the arsenal of items a GM would use besides the toolbox of his ruleset of choice.

Fluff which is usually defined in the gamer community usually connotes to the background and setting info which would cover a lot of info regarding the game world from macro to micro aspects of existence and its many inhabitants. This is usually taken as is by the GM and players to use and base their decisions on the PCs and how NPCs and campaigns are forged. In other cases, the fluff would be very dry or light in material which leaves a lot of interpretation or guesswork to do for the GM to wrack his brains over to no end and also leaves a potentially big loophole for some enterprising PCs to exploit and manipulate to no end besides their apparent abuse of the system they know inside and out, especially if the GM is not fast on the uptake with this. A better way to approach it is that fluff and crunch have to go hand in hand in some measure to better illustrate how it works in the game setting and how the game rules or stat illustrate it without being overpowered by either end of fluff or crunch.

Some sourcebooks for what appears to be for exclusive game systems it operates under can basically be retreaded into other game systems of a more suitable preference, if systems would allow for it in-genre of course. Example of such books to idea mine, port and transfer would be like Century Station Sourcebook for Heroes Unlimited by Palladium Books, Unnecessary Evil for Savage Worlds by Pinnacle Entertainment Group,
Transhuman Space for GURPS and standalone (with built-in GURPS Lite) by Steve Jackson Games, Centauri Knights for BESM by no-longer-active publisher Guardians of Order. Sometimes a genre-specific tie-in would help ease the transitioning to some manner as long as conversion issues are not to problematic like example of transplanting a superhero setting or ideas from its native system to a more familiar system of the GM's choosing, complexity taken into account as well.

So basically fluff can be both an attraction and a deterrent as well the way the system or crunch would be in the presentation of a given game. If done in the right proportion or properly moderated or presented, it wouldn't prove to complicated or daunting for the reader, whether it be prospective GM or player.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dungeons & Dragons and Role Playing Games

Barry Osser, the owner of North Coast Role Playing in Eureka, California talks about the history of role playing games, the types of RPGs, genres, and lots of interesting tidbits in his video series How to Play Dungeons & Dragons and Role Playing Games.

A touching film about Role Playing

A short film on role playing with a bite. Roleplayed was written and directed by Chad Peter.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Letting a game freely roam

Unexpected line of thought after reading this entry and some discussion with the blog writer who made that entry. It got me thinking in retrospect along with the left turn agenda as well as I look back in my high school game which I GM'd back then.
To put it simply, this is to elaborate on the usual model of RPing as opposed to the more free-form or sandlot type of gaming.
The usual style goes like: Crawl through the adventure locale, kill encounters and take its stuff, cash in xp/advancement point/etc paycheck and call it a session done. The variation on this would analogized to a by-the-rails format of gaming, a concept I borrowed from by-the-rail shooter games like most light gun arcade games go. The limitation in the above-mentioned example is that, the grind or process of accruing the wealth and advancement points would be a tedious time consuming affair. It sets goals but more of a selfish variety in regarding to personal advancement as well as wealth and materials advancement.
The free-form or sandlot game would be considered for the experienced GM and a decently seasoned group of players in his handling. The free-form or sandlot game is where the need to do the usual grind process is eliminated and the focus or priority is more to smoother game handling and role-playing aspects. Given that its free-form or likened to a sandlot style of gaming with the likes of the GTA videogame series, Mercenaries games or the Fallout series especially. This format is giving the players complete autonomy to do what they want in the game setting and nothing is heavily forced onto them. The experienced GM is a must to handle it since story elements would just be triggered and other details would be enabled on the fly. Pre-made stuff would be the order of the day to cover all the bases in case the players desire a certain encounter or action to be met by opposition. It also eliminates the matter of origins and other stumbling blocks of coming of age and such because you have unlocked all the potentials and possibilities that the player's imagination would conceive of. This frees up the doldrums of grinding away and having to deal with beyond/over the horizon goals of getting to that level of character advancement while the pacing is slow in handling due to a number of things. Its also a trust issue for the GM and the players to commit in an unspoken agreement to make the story go smoothly without giving each other grief.
With a synergy of GM and players going with the common goal of having fun, the results speak for themselves in terms of memorable storytelling since the tedium of a traditional dungeon/building crawl of a game is rendered nil or minimized. Its all in the story and character development which makes me very enjoyable in the long run.
Its all a matter of fiddling with system switches and dials to crank up maximum fun with the system. Texture of game system would also be a deciding factor in making such an endeavor fly and roam. I say this because sandlot games would have a moderate to minimum level of crunchiness because a overly crunchy game system would bog things down due to the GM processing done. A rules-light with a eye to cinematic gaming would be key in making this happen.
GMs can be agoraphiles in the context of this topic because we always have this affinity for freedom that makes possible our imaginations to roam and explore. That's it for now on this entry. Happy gaming!