Wednesday 29 July 2020

Create whatever player character you want

As long as players are at the table to game well, they understand and appreciate the mood and goals of the table and they're not there to make it about themselves, then I'm good.

The PC is yours to create - I'm not going to restrict you based on what the adventure or the game needs to function. You want to create a pacifist in a combat heavy game? You go for it. That's a challenge to me as the GM and THAT'S WHY I GM.

I GM for the challenge of doing things differently, being as spontaneous and creative as I can be. And other players should be the same, and adapt to the wildcard in the group because that's what makes the game fun and challenging.

So you want to create a combat-inclined character in a investigative mystery game? Cool! the sparks that will fly as other PCs try to keep that character in check, and for me to adapt the adventure to suit, is creatively challenging and should create some amazing moments.

There shouldn't be a 'requirement' in character creation, or PCs shouldn't be expected to function in a way that suits the game and group. It should be challenging, and as long as the group is good with it, and expect some turbulence, then a great game can be had with PCs that go against the grain. I don't want cookie cutter characters with specific roles in the group. That's a board game with set outcomes and definitive goals.

I want to tell a group story, and the best stories come from peculiar situations that are faced by characters that defy expectations. And it's fun for the players, too. They get to play what they want, and the others get to shine as they react to each other.

It's as much about the group dynamic and the relationships they have as it is about the unfolding story.

And I hate to tell a player 'you can't do that' when we're creating characters. Yes, I'll step in when things get insane or ridiculous, but I'll be damned if I step in because a player is being creative.

Create what you feel, what you're comfortable with. Don't let the game dictate what you play, even if the nature of the game requires specific types of characters. ESPECIALLY if that's the case.

Make it a challenge, not just as the GM but as a player, too. That's what gives an RPG fire.

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Those Dark Places RPG - Designer's Blog #2

Artwork by Nathan AndersonToday I wanted to talk more about the game system that 'Those Dark Places' will be using.

The system is called 'ODDS' (although it is not addressed as such in the game), which stands for 'One Die Determines Success'. The game uses a single D6 for task resolution as I wanted the game to focus more on the story rather than the crunch. The system is very simple - take an attribute, add any relevant modifiers due to the position in the crew, any equipment and actual situation, and roll a D6. Add the scores together to beat a target number, and interpret the results depending on the level of success.

This produces three levels of success that translate to 'yes, no' and  'yes, but' results that will make for some tense games.

These three levels of success are key to the tension and uncertainty that I want Those Dark Places to offer - the players can make their rolls with their modifiers and they have a target number to beat, but they can kind of succeed if they hit the target number. So, yes, they closed the airlock but did it seal properly? They convinced the guard of their intentions but will he reconsider his decision later, perhaps sound an alarm? The simple threat of these incidents possibly coming back to haunt the players always hangs in the air, and it helps the GM to come up with some fun and twisted ways to make sure that the story is unpredictable, as well as giving them a chance to game on the fly and spontaneously create new and exciting situations.

I also wanted the game to be quick and intuitive - pace and tension can be disrupted when players have to do a lot of number crunching or table searching. Many games of this kind that i have played in have been slowed as rules are read, debated and interpreted and once the tension is gone the atmosphere is ruined; I wanted a simple system that avoided that. It leaves a lot of the work in the GMs hands, for sure, but the system is easy to interpret so they can just make a ruling and get on with the story. It's fast, ever so simple and easy to grasp so you can have a game going in minutes. It's also really workable, so if you want to make modifications to the rules and add a lot more depth then you can do so with ease.

In my next blog entry I'll talk more about character creation.

Thursday 2 July 2020

A Cyberpunk-style TV show would be EASY to do, surely?

ImageSoup up normal streets, add some flash and attitude, upgrade the tech and bang - Cyberpunk show. Imagine a show like that made in LA - the city is screaming Cyberpunk. Christ, imagine making it in The Volume, the digital set used in 'The Mandalorian'. It'd be insane.

You could have fresh music every episode, old school dance and house, industrial, metal, synth, revival. Bands like Celldweller, Gunship, Feint, all kinds of stuff old and new. Action, attitude and a dark, dystopian era of government and corporation corruption.

I mean, we're living it, so why not be entertained by it?

Why is nobody writing this? Surely it writes itself? The balance of life and tech, the corruption of the soul, the ethics of new technologies and breakthroughs, the thin wall between corporate greed and government mandate.


We need something in line with Cyberpunk, the street trash, corp bastards and the attitude. Thick Matrix-style action. Every week a new story that intertwines the top dogs and the bottom feeders, with all kinds of drama and face-offs.

A new and fresh band every week, showcase new music talent with edge and attitude. Make it fresh and exciting. Even throw in older stuff, remixes of classics.

Could you imagine some of the amazing writers the show could get involved? From street level danger to cop procedural to corporate intrigue to courtroom drama you could have EVERYTHING! A slew of TV dramas all mixed into a Cyberpunk setting, with curses and bullets flying.

It'd be like 'What's happening this week? Oh, the workers at the Gamazone distribution warehouse have all gone batshit insane due to spinal implants to make them work harder and the corp don't give a shit? The hardass lawyer hires the street gang to get the evidence! ACTION!'

The gang do it but then the corp mercenaries with cranal links to their guns trying to cover it up catch up with them, and then BOOM! You've got a car chase through a neon nightmare while Feint feat. Coma's 'Snake Eyes' screams out. Heart's racing just THINKING about that.

Look at all the police procedurals with a sheen of darkness to it, like CSI. Throw in some neon and some modded motors and you're almost halfway there. Budget might be a problem, but let it sing to a younger, more jaded audience and you're in.

Can you imagine the bands who would just DIE to have their music showcased or featured in an episode? As a main track, event score or just playing in the background? Guest star the mofos in a club where the streetrash hang out! It'd really call out to the younger audience.

And with cynical fuckers writing it, really letting the darker side of the modern age leaking out and presenting 'what if?' scenarios that either crawl under your skin or make you ponder possibilities, what could better reflect the shit going down in the modern world?

And, even better, we connect with characters with the cool hair, cool tats, cool clothes and cool gear who are barely getting by but are angry enough to cry 'FUCK YOU!' to the wagemasters and take a stand, fight back, and use the tech they've been controlled with to wage war.

Absolutely no compromise. Nothing twee, cute or morally uplifiting. You get dealt a hand, lose the bet, but then realise you've been had and you KICK IT IN THE BALLS! Melodrama, emotion, action, the whole nine yards.

Characters you can attach yourself to emotionally, and not feel too bad when they let themsleves go, so you're yelling at the screen 'OH, DAMN RIGHT, CLARICE! YOU FUCK THEM UP!'

I'm trying hard to get across what I want from a show like this. ATMOSPHERE AND ATTITUDE is everything. Yeah, show the streets as recognisable locations but when someone shows their robot arm, synthetic eyes, or a hovercar flies over then you KNOW you're not in Kansas, Dotmatrix.

/end rant