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Phasers and Pseudopods: How to Win at 3D Chess and other [Tabletop Games]

JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp.I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
my new favorite gaming system right now

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it also comes with SPECIAL DICE, which are the best kind of dice

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but you can also talk about other games too if you must

but why would you

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Posts

  • MeldingMelding Registered User regular
    this feels like you cheated to make sure you got to make your star trek thread.

    The Hanged ManBrainleechZonugalElldrenCaptain UltraRainfallSolarShadowenJacobkoshdarunia106
  • ArdentArdent Registered User regular
    It's okay, we can talk about limestone rockwine and see where that takes us.

    Steam ID | Origin ID: ArdentX | Uplay ID: theardent | Battle.net: Ardent#11476
  • MatevMatev Cero Miedo Registered User regular
    Or which rocks make the best eats. I feel like granite's a staple, but obsidian is like lobster. Sure, it's fancy, but is it the best?

    "Go down, kick ass, and set yourselves up as gods, that's our Prime Directive!"
    Hail Hydra
  • StraightziStraightzi Here we may reign secure, and in my choice, To reign is worth ambition though in HellRegistered User regular
    Aw man, I saw the old thread was closed and was like halfway into making a poll about what the best monster race is (gnolls for life) before I saw this existed

    Metzger Meister
  • Virgil_Leads_YouVirgil_Leads_You Not on Any Podcast or Affliated Don't Even Own a MikeRegistered User regular
    Best Monsters are Slimes!

    VayBJ4e.png
    NeoToma
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited October 2017
    Continuing from the discussion about homebrewed vs premade settings, I think there are a few key elements that go into making a setting good:

    1) This is one I heard Jordan Weisman, the guy who started FASA and developed Battletech and Shadowrun, talk about in a podcast: "what's the core fantasy?" Like, what is the cool thing that a person reading or watching or playing in the setting will get to vicariously experience? Is it being an elite hacker? Driving a giant robot? Having swashbuckling sword fights on a pirate ship? Solving occult mysteries? And so on and so forth. Another way to phrase this is "what's the audience-facing element?" If the cool part of your setting is below the waterline like an iceberg where nobody can see it, than who cares? I know this sounds really basic but it's weird how many settings that feel like the author didn't take the actual audience experience into account and exist purely to litigate some obscure argument or slake some desire of the author's.

    2) It needs to be evocative. It should have an interesting look and feel that set it apart from other, superficially similar things. Westeros is vaguely like medieval England, full of sudden and unfair violence, and magic is present but not really immediately accessible. Dune is baroque and formal and its architecture/clothes/speech/etc draw from a variety of world cultures, especially nineteenth-century Ottomans, rather than being America In Space, which makes it different from 40K, which is also baroque space opera but much more Gothic and Catholic-flavored. Dark Sun is D&D crossed with Edgar Rice Burroughs-style planetary romance, full of lost cities and a sense of melancholy. Et cetera et cetera.

    3) The author(s) should exert effort to zero in on the themes that flow naturally from the premise. So vampire stories often tend to be about sex and predation, samurai stories are often about duty vs humanity, etc etc. Almost any setting has some kind of inbuilt conflict from which a suffciently creative person can unspool a theme but I think it's best when someone kind of consciously foregrounds those conflicts and those themes. Those themes don't have to dictate every story that occurs in the setting and they are often better when invisible than when explicit but it does help when they're there.

    Those are good guidelines for settings in general, I think, including just fiction settings. For games specifically, the setting needs to be gameable, and I think there are a few specific elements to that:

    4) The setting needs a level of granularity above and beyond what a lot of novels and films offer. West End Games had to basically invent a whole swath of things about Star Wars, including the names of most species and planets, because it's easy in a movie to just throw a werewolf guy in the background but what do you say if you're making an RPG and someone wants to play that fuckin' werewolf guy? And the process of making decisions in-character leads very naturally to the player wanting to know stuff that their character would naturally know that would inform that decision. William Gibson talks about the experience of being consulted by a game company that wanted to license his Sprawl novels as a setting and these guys visited him and asked stuff like "what do the people in such-and-such a place eat?" and he was like what the fuck, I don't know! And that's fine for a novelist. But I think that is a reasonable question that a player at a game table might want to know.

    5) There needs to be something in the setting that either explicitly encourages, or at least doesn't get in the way of, the formation of PC parties, of groups of diverse people with complementary skillsets. This is what makes, like, roleplaying everyday cops or soldiers in Vietnam or whatever potentially kind of tough: it's harder for people to stand out and feel like they've made an interesting individual when they're playing members of a large institution with roughly similar skills. (This is not IMPOSSIBLE, and there are specifically good games about being Vietnam soldiers and everyday beat cops or homicide detectives but it does require more effort.) It's a lot easier when the fiction lets you be a heist crew or a superhero team or whatever.

    6) The setting should leave white space for the GM to fill in and breathing room for a group of PCs to be important. This is what makes a lot of otherwise great settings from other media hard to game: everything revolves around the core story told in the novels/video game/film/etc and by the end there are no setting mysteries left for a GM to build a story around or a conflict in which a group of players can prevail. A setting like Forgotten Realms, where every traveler on the road you meet is secretly Elminster or another godlike NPC, very naturally invites the question of why the PCs are even bothering. Shadowrun, especially old 90s Shadowrun, is also super-bad about this, and Shadowrun GMs have fucking Stockholm syndrome on the subject: Shadowrun threads are full of this weird, almost right-wing tough guy talk about how you shouldn't even bother trying to be heroes in Shadowrun because you can't change shit, you dumb hippie, corporations are just too cool. And in the Shadowrun metaplot, that's basically true. Your runner isn't important, but a guy named fucking Art Dankwalther? That dude is super important.

    Conversely, that's one of the things I really like about Eberron for D&D - it's filled with mysteries that are explicitly left undefined for individual groups to figure out and there's no "metaplot" with a team of officially-sanctioned heroes solving the setting. It's built from the ground up to be a world where the people at your table are the heroes, or at least can be.

    Jacobkosh on
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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Melding wrote: »
    this feels like you cheated to make sure you got to make your star trek thread.

    wandering
  • UrielUriel Registered User regular
    That's a real good post up there.

    JacobkoshStraightziFawstMsAnthropyLord_AsmodeusZonugalElldrenA Dabble Of TheloniusMetzger Meisterwebguy20SolarShadowensarukun
  • MeldingMelding Registered User regular
    Straightzi wrote: »
    Aw man, I saw the old thread was closed and was like halfway into making a poll about what the best monster race is (gnolls for life) before I saw this existed

    if it makes you feel any better, i would have still beate you with Ghost Powered Robots, and the Elves that love them: A DnD thread

    until i noticed that the reason i didn't see the new dnd thread was because it was made before geth locked the old one.

  • captainkcaptaink TexasRegistered User regular
    edited October 2017
    I'm on my fourth episode of Star Trek Adventures ask me anything.

    captaink on
    Jacobkoshsarukun
  • TomantaTomanta Registered User regular
    I think that nails why I like Golarion but not FR. Because it's a blank setting space built around PC adventure paths and organized play. There are metaplot elements, but it is entirely geared towards pcs. Even if, say, a recent adventure path references a past one you didn't play it wasn't Elminster that did those things, it was other PCs. It's still somewhat generic, but the setting is built to support PCs.

    Captain Ultra
  • NeoTomaNeoToma Registered User regular
    Straightzi wrote: »
    Aw man, I saw the old thread was closed and was like halfway into making a poll about what the best monster race is (gnolls for life) before I saw this existed

    I'm a big fan of Skeletons and intelligent Spiders

    DE?ADCharmy
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    captaink wrote: »
    I'm on my fourth episode of Star Trek Adventures ask me anything.

    yessss

    What is your ship? What era are you playing? What have your adventures been like so far? What is your favorite part of the system? What is your least favorite part of the system? What are you looking forward to doing next?

    @captaink

    Hahnsoo1
  • The Hanged ManThe Hanged Man Once I ate a pizza so big, they gave me a prize. Then I threw up and they took it back.Registered User regular
    Got an email from one of my former Mage: the Ascension players that his local WoD LARP group found this empty shopping center that the owner is expecting to sell to someone who will just want the land and demolish the buildings, so they've been renting it out to whatever weird-ass community group can scrape together enough cash to make it worthwhile to keep the electricity running. So my friend's group colonized one whole wing and turned it into a bunch of sets that are way too elaborate for a place they may lose access to literally any day now.

    Anyway, the weird juxtaposition of Vampire LARPersin the empty mall got us thinking about a setting that's some kind of especially huge shopping center, like a space station at a major travel junction that grew into a tremendous and chaotic market, but whatever rules and regulations governed it have broken down, there's no longer any easy way to leave, and travelers from outside no longer come, so it's devolved into warring factions based around 90's Mall Culture who squabble with each other for access to decorative plant beds that can be repurposed for agriculture, or access to the station's climate control systems so they can guard their territory with fierce artificial snowstorms. All the strongest tribes have colonized the bigger Department Stores, while the exiles and outcasts congregate in the parking garage, but know the secret passageways of the maintenance corridors behind all the shops. Everyone else is in a constant state of battle over the smaller shops and kiosks. At least one whole wing has been taken over by a mad genius who worked in the Radio Shack and built a machine to hack all the robot mannequins, who fill his domain like a statue garden until they detect intruders.

    We're still workshopping the concept, but I think it's got some potential.

    TWITTER: @DesertLeviathan, PSN: LeviathanAscends
    3DS: 1590-4800-2407, SWITCH: SW-3925-2368-8101
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  • Speed RacerSpeed Racer Scritch scratch scritch scratch scritch scratch scritch scratch scritch scratch scritch scratch scritch scratch scritch scratch scritch scratch scritch scratch scritch scratch scritch scratchRegistered User regular
    edited October 2017
    On the subject of setting I was talking about ours with one of my players earlier and they reminded me that the entire campaign arc came out of some worldbuilding that one of the other players inspired during character creation

    When I introduced the world to them I gave them about a page long creation myth about how there were two sister goddesses and one accidentally killed the other while they were play-wrestling, and her dead body turned into a world. It was mostly just sorta goofy fluff that was supposed to get them into the right mindset of what this world was like. But one of them wanted to be a cleric, and since clerics are religious he asked if maybe there was, say, a goddess of healing that he could be a follower of. And I liked that idea, but also figured that if there's a goddess devoted specifically to healing, then there must be a huge pantheon of gods that are really specialized. So I ended up coming up with 56, and they ranged from things like the goddess of love to the goddess of fashion to the goddess of politics, to the point where they almost sorta function more like saints

    (56 was a number I picked because I figured if this is a religion then any numbers associated with it should seem numerologically significant, and 56 is the original goddess and her 55 daughters, where 55 equals the squares of the first five numbers, 1 + 4 + 9 + 16 + 25)

    And then I figured that if the world's mythology is that complicated then there should probably also be a devil figure, so I made a 57th evil goddess, and since the head of the pantheon was the goddess of truth I made her the goddess of lies, and after a month or so of playing the whole game came to be about fighting her

    Speed Racer on
    BucketmanZonugalironsizideThe BetgirlRingoLord PalingtonCharmyRhesus PositiveGrobian
  • BrainleechBrainleech Registered User regular
    Best Monsters are Slimes!

    0siy7s2ysi0q.jpg

  • TurambarTurambar Avocado at law Registered User regular
    I'm fanfictioning in my head about my DnD characters after their adventuring career, and pretty much all of them become villains

    Steam: turamb | Origin: Turamb | 3DS: 3411-1109-4537 | NNID: Turambar
  • DaMoonRulzDaMoonRulz Mare ImbriumRegistered User regular
    edited October 2017
    Today at 330pm Pacific at TwitchCon, HyperRPG will be doing a presentation for their upcoming show that's a collaboration with Saban:
    power-rangers-hyperforce_1.png?itok=XeaHwsjr

    It's going to be GMed by Malika Lim using a system of her own creation. They also developed a Twitch Extension for subs that will let them make their own Ranger to send on missions during the show.

    The Cast:
    power-rangers-hyper-force-tabletop-1039100.jpg
    Peter Sudarso (Power Rangers Ninja Steel Blue Ranger)
    Andre of Black Nerd Comedy (Power Rangers super fan and Internet personality)
    Meghan Camarena (social media personality, Strawburry17)
    Paulie Schrier (Bulk from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
    Cristina Vee (actress, social media personality).

    The Plot:

    Power Rangers Hyperforce is set in the year 3016 at Time Force Academy. A team of Time Force Ranger cadets must band together to defeat an ancient evil who is set on unraveling the very fabric of the universe. Under the leadership of their mentor, Jen Scott, and with the show’s Game Master, Malika Lim, the newly minted Rangers will cross both time and space to complete their mission while running into many familiar eras (and faces) along the way.

    The actual.shownwill start this coming Tuesday at 6pm Pacific on twitch.tv/HyperRPG

    DaMoonRulz on
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    "Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are smarter than one man. How's that again? I missed something" Lazarus Long

    BucketmanMatevThe Hanged ManRingoDE?ADRainfallSolarDevlin_Dragonus
  • SanderJKSanderJK Crocodylus Pontifex Sinterklasicus Madrid, 3000 ADRegistered User regular
    There's a bit of issue with metaplot, players choice and spoilers with Golarion though.

    Irissen is a good example. Every 100 years the royal lineage gets toppled by the Baba Yaga and a new daughter gets installed.

    But if you read PFS lore.... The current queen has been ruling for 104 years. No explanation given.

    Only if you play the relevant adventure path, all the way at the end of book 6 does this get resolved into one of many avenues, but to not spoil this the writers for organised play keep it static.

    Steam: SanderJK Origin: SanderJK
  • TomantaTomanta Registered User regular
    SanderJK wrote: »
    There's a bit of issue with metaplot, players choice and spoilers with Golarion though.

    Irissen is a good example. Every 100 years the royal lineage gets toppled by the Baba Yaga and a new daughter gets installed.

    But if you read PFS lore.... The current queen has been ruling for 104 years. No explanation given.

    Only if you play the relevant adventure path, all the way at the end of book 6 does this get resolved into one of many avenues, but to not spoil this the writers for organised play keep it static.

    Huh. I'm fine with not spoiling the AP (even if the title of one of the books is a spoiler...), the PFS writers should probably avoid things like that, though.

    But you also have so many people working on Pathfinder that weird interactions are bound to crop up.

  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    Guys my most favourite boardgames is getting an expansion and is going from four players to five players and I am unreasonably happy about this, as my biggest complaint is that four players can feel a little exclusionary.

    NeoTomaJayKaossarukun
  • UrielUriel Registered User regular
    edited October 2017
    I really want to run Lancer.

    Or Dungeon World.

    I wish I had friends.

    Or was good at running games.

    Uriel on
  • Lord_AsmodeusLord_Asmodeus goeticSobriquet: Here is your magical cryptic riddle-tumour: I AM A TIME MACHINERegistered User regular
    edited October 2017
    Are we including wargames in this general tabletop discussion?

    Also also, a couple of weeks ago me, my two brothers and my oldest brother's family all had a game night! We played Sushi Go! Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Exploding Kittens! It was great. I lost Sushi Go! I was with the non-betrayers in Betrayal and we won by the skin of our teeth and I got a smooth win in Exploding Kittens through sheer force of will and bluffing acumen, and not luck at all.

    We're looking to get together at least once a month and I'm hoping to get some Catan in next time.

    Lord_Asmodeus on
    Lord_Asmodeus.gifLord_Asmodeus2.gifz1i30sg.png
    RingoVirgil_Leads_You
  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    Are we including wargames in this general tabletop discussion?

    Also also, a couple of weeks ago me, my two brothers and my oldest brother's family all had a game night! We played Sushi Go! Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Exploding Kittens! It was great. I lost Sushi Go! I was with the non-betrayers in Betrayal and we won by the skin of our teeth and I got a smooth win in Exploding Kittens through sheer force of will and bluffing acumen, and not luck at all.

    We're looking to get together at least once a month and I'm hoping to get some Catan in next time.

    I Like catan i just don't like me when i play it

  • captainkcaptaink TexasRegistered User regular
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    captaink wrote: »
    I'm on my fourth episode of Star Trek Adventures ask me anything.

    yessss

    What is your ship? What era are you playing? What have your adventures been like so far? What is your favorite part of the system? What is your least favorite part of the system? What are you looking forward to doing next?

    We are playing early DS9/TNG movies era. We are in a Sovereign-class ship. It's the Sovereign, actually, the first produced model. Adventures have been a good mix. Apparently they are the ones that come with the system or a kickstarter? I'll spoil them
    -An apparently uninhabited planet where one race has an annual hunt for another to power their ships.
    -Stopping a sonic plague from breaking out again.
    -Helping an Enterprise-era ship that was caught in a wormhole and succumbed to internal strift
    -Assisting a Federation science vessel that accidentally(?) veered into the Neutral Zone

    Things I like:
    -Lifepath creation was really fun. I did it twice and could have done it more times. You can move back and forth between picking and randomizing your character really easily. It really ties together your stats, talents, and fiction. My character is a Betazoid with the Artistic and Cultural background. But I chose rebel, so I decided that he's a rather more rowdy and physically gifted Betazoid than is typical. He ended up in a security track at Starfleet academy, and had some life events. I chose Veteran, and decided he eventually moved into Command. He's now First Officer on the Sovreign.
    -Speaking of Betazoid, the Telepath talent is super good. It makes our GM scramble pretty often, so I try not to abuse it. I can scan surface thoughts for free, and dig deeper with a task. I have sort of become the group's detective and peacemaker. Spoilers for a published adventure
    During the time rift episode, the other ship's crew had split into Engineering, Science, and Command factions. The captain captured the chief engineer and was putting her on trial for mutiny. The science officer scanned the engineer, declared she was the shapeshifting alien that killed a crewmember and started the whole fiasco, and the captain sentenced her to be spaced. I telepathically dove into the science officer's mind, determined she was lying, and then successfully used that to convince her to take it back and tell the truth. Chaos erupted. It was awesome.
    -Having rules not just for combat, but for social conflict, as well as any kind of other science, engineering, medicine tasks, is great. There's an extended task for things you want to make more complex.

    Things I don't like (yet)
    -We are still figuring out the supporting characters thing. We haven't made good use of them often yet. It has led to a few scenarios where players without characters on the away team have been sitting for long stretches. It's probably worth it to make sure you take a supporting character to a mission if your main is going to be hanging on the ship for some reason. And maybe vice versa.
    -On a similar note, my Command character has felt good in the past couple missions, but the first one was essentially a science mission. I was pretty useless. If you're grouped up, there's never been a reason to not let your best characters play to their strengths. So I think each adventure needs to be fairly diverse in terms of the challenges you face, so your scientists, doctors, commanders, engineers, and security folks all get a time to shine. It's also somewhat on the players to be creative and figure out how to contribute outside of their obvious focuses.
    -We don't have a Conn specialist/helmsman and I don't think we need one. It's really only useful in space combat or the rare times you have a shuttle or something. Good supporting character fodder I guess.



    Looking forward to our first off-book adventure that may be coming next week. I also haven't interacted with the Milestone system yet, and I want to.

    -Character-building tip: Make sure your Focuses are 1) not too narrow, and 2) applicable to the Disciplines you are good at. Making them over-broad is a little metagamey, it's a balance you have to strike. They only activate when you roll under your relevant Discipline, so having a Focus where your Discipline is 1 is useless (a 1 is always a crit, regardless of focus) and having a 2 is not much better. When it lines up with your 4 and 5 disciplines, you get crits for 2,3,4 or 5. Getting 2 successes with 1 die is huge.
    -Similarly, make sure your 4 Values have a variety of applications and aren't just restating the same thing. You can only use your Determination when fulfilling or challenging a Value, so make them statements you can apply somewhat frequently. Again, you have to strike a balance between having a broad sweeping statement that you can apply anywhere but isn't very much help to defining your character, and a narrow one that is full of character but isn't any help actually playing the game.
    -We have found that spending 1 momentum to buy 1 more die almost always pays off. You earn momentum for additional Successes over the difficulty, so it's often the case that the die pays for itself. And in a situation where your focus is in play, it may be another crit, gaining even more momentum.
    -Conversely, the GM can decide that the complication range is wider, or spend Threat to increase it. Normally, 20s are a Complication, but it can be broadened by at least 4. In that case, every die is a chance to roll more complications, making your current task more tricky or generating more Threat.

    MsAnthropyJacobkoshVirgil_Leads_You
  • AnzekayAnzekay Registered User regular
    Blake T wrote: »
    Guys my most favourite boardgames is getting an expansion and is going from four players to five players and I am unreasonably happy about this, as my biggest complaint is that four players can feel a little exclusionary.

    Which game?

    AuralynxAlbino Bunny
  • The Hanged ManThe Hanged Man Once I ate a pizza so big, they gave me a prize. Then I threw up and they took it back.Registered User regular
    Woke up with more ideas for the Battle Mall.
    - The most wealthy and influential figure in the setting was like some kind of 80's Madonna/Cyndi Lauper mall teen when contact with the outside world collapsed, but now she's more or less Aunty Entity through a filter of bubblegum punk. Her power stems from the fact that her gang's hangout spot was near one of the main drinking fountains, and she was able to direct her crew of roller skate barbarians to sabotage or commandeer other drinking fountains until a large region had to come to her for water. She's a relatively compassionate figure for this sort of setting, who ensures that people with extraordinary needs due to age or health are cared for, but everybody else has to pay dearly.

    - There are six major tribes that took up residence in the six largest Department Stores. Each of these stores carries clothes that represent a combination of three virtues - Style (you better believe having a fresh look will play a key role in your survival prospects), Cost (each of the stores has fabrication machines that must be fed materials to produce goods, with some requiring larger quantities or higher qualities of material), and Durability (how easily can your clothes be modified into Armor without ruining the look). So each of the six would have a rank of 3 in one trait, 2 in another, and 1 in the last. There is a seventh store full of clothing with balanced attributes (2s in all categories), but it is considered neutral ground at the center of the Battle Mall, and all factions have access to their fabrication machines. Clothing from smaller stores may go outside the maximum 6 point value, but is much more rare.

    - There is an arcade that is vast beyond all imagining. The clan of semi-feral Lost Boys who live here ran out of quarters ages ago, but still find the lights and noise of the demo videos comforting. They have developed a style of unarmed combat from imitating the Mortal Kombat machine that is deadly, if flawed. There is an ancient Sinistar machine in the deepest depths of the arcade that they worship as a Demon Oracle. Interestingly, this is the largest culture in the Battle Mall that is at all male-dominated, and has by far the most imbalanced gender ratio. But because they have no tolerance for Adults, young men are regularly harried from their ranks to go petition some other clan for membership. They keep their numbers up mainly by recruiting runaways, but also occasionally through kidnapping.

    - The food court was once the most hotly contested region. It's a wasteland now. Only the bravest scavenger crews venture in looking for ketchup packets and plastic straws. No people live there, but some thing does. There are stories of a second food court that is still pristine, but if it exists, it is beyond the Vale of Haunted Mannequins, the Clan of the Cutlery Store, the Spencer's Gifts, and other perils beyond imagining.

    - Wishing Fountains are seen as shrines to the mad god of this place. The coins of the ancient civilization have no real value any more, and are seen as mere curiosities, left in the fountains to corrode. Instead, people throw in small personal tokens - pieces of jewelry, the severed finger of an enemy, a punch card for the pretzel hut that is only two punches from a free pretzel. A secretive order of monks clean the fountains out and perform strange rituals with the offerings, but even the most hardened Mall Marauder would hesitate before harming one of these individuals, as they have displayed strange abilities to grant fair or foul luck.

    TWITTER: @DesertLeviathan, PSN: LeviathanAscends
    3DS: 1590-4800-2407, SWITCH: SW-3925-2368-8101
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  • Albino BunnyAlbino Bunny Quantronic Dreamgirl Registered User regular
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Continuing from the discussion about homebrewed vs premade settings, I think there are a few key elements that go into making a setting good:

    1) This is one I heard Jordan Weisman, the guy who started FASA and developed Battletech and Shadowrun, talk about in a podcast: "what's the core fantasy?" Like, what is the cool thing that a person reading or watching or playing in the setting will get to vicariously experience? Is it being an elite hacker? Driving a giant robot? Having swashbuckling sword fights on a pirate ship? Solving occult mysteries? And so on and so forth. Another way to phrase this is "what's the audience-facing element?" If the cool part of your setting is below the waterline like an iceberg where nobody can see it, than who cares? I know this sounds really basic but it's weird how many settings that feel like the author didn't take the actual audience experience into account and exist purely to litigate some obscure argument or slake some desire of the author's.

    2) It needs to be evocative. It should have an interesting look and feel that set it apart from other, superficially similar things. Westeros is vaguely like medieval England, full of sudden and unfair violence, and magic is present but not really immediately accessible. Dune is baroque and formal and its architecture/clothes/speech/etc draw from a variety of world cultures, especially nineteenth-century Ottomans, rather than being America In Space, which makes it different from 40K, which is also baroque space opera but much more Gothic and Catholic-flavored. Dark Sun is D&D crossed with Edgar Rice Burroughs-style planetary romance, full of lost cities and a sense of melancholy. Et cetera et cetera.

    3) The author(s) should exert effort to zero in on the themes that flow naturally from the premise. So vampire stories often tend to be about sex and predation, samurai stories are often about duty vs humanity, etc etc. Almost any setting has some kind of inbuilt conflict from which a suffciently creative person can unspool a theme but I think it's best when someone kind of consciously foregrounds those conflicts and those themes. Those themes don't have to dictate every story that occurs in the setting and they are often better when invisible than when explicit but it does help when they're there.

    Those are good guidelines for settings in general, I think, including just fiction settings. For games specifically, the setting needs to be gameable, and I think there are a few specific elements to that:

    4) The setting needs a level of granularity above and beyond what a lot of novels and films offer. West End Games had to basically invent a whole swath of things about Star Wars, including the names of most species and planets, because it's easy in a movie to just throw a werewolf guy in the background but what do you say if you're making an RPG and someone wants to play that fuckin' werewolf guy? And the process of making decisions in-character leads very naturally to the player wanting to know stuff that their character would naturally know that would inform that decision. William Gibson talks about the experience of being consulted by a game company that wanted to license his Sprawl novels as a setting and these guys visited him and asked stuff like "what do the people in such-and-such a place eat?" and he was like what the fuck, I don't know! And that's fine for a novelist. But I think that is a reasonable question that a player at a game table might want to know.

    5) There needs to be something in the setting that either explicitly encourages, or at least doesn't get in the way of, the formation of PC parties, of groups of diverse people with complementary skillsets. This is what makes, like, roleplaying everyday cops or soldiers in Vietnam or whatever potentially kind of tough: it's harder for people to stand out and feel like they've made an interesting individual when they're playing members of a large institution with roughly similar skills. (This is not IMPOSSIBLE, and there are specifically good games about being Vietnam soldiers and everyday beat cops or homicide detectives but it does require more effort.) It's a lot easier when the fiction lets you be a heist crew or a superhero team or whatever.

    6) The setting should leave white space for the GM to fill in and breathing room for a group of PCs to be important. This is what makes a lot of otherwise great settings from other media hard to game: everything revolves around the core story told in the novels/video game/film/etc and by the end there are no setting mysteries left for a GM to build a story around or a conflict in which a group of players can prevail. A setting like Forgotten Realms, where every traveler on the road you meet is secretly Elminster or another godlike NPC, very naturally invites the question of why the PCs are even bothering. Shadowrun, especially old 90s Shadowrun, is also super-bad about this, and Shadowrun GMs have fucking Stockholm syndrome on the subject: Shadowrun threads are full of this weird, almost right-wing tough guy talk about how you shouldn't even bother trying to be heroes in Shadowrun because you can't change shit, you dumb hippie, corporations are just too cool. And in the Shadowrun metaplot, that's basically true. Your runner isn't important, but a guy named fucking Art Dankwalther? That dude is super important.

    Conversely, that's one of the things I really like about Eberron for D&D - it's filled with mysteries that are explicitly left undefined for individual groups to figure out and there's no "metaplot" with a team of officially-sanctioned heroes solving the setting. It's built from the ground up to be a world where the people at your table are the heroes, or at least can be.

    Kinda wanna check this off for my dumb fantasy setting that'll never get finished:

    1) Straia's core fantasy is playing talented travelers who can experience the weird and inspire the wonderful in the world. It's about feeling empowered by what fascinates your character and having those talents influence the world as you step into situations.

    2) I'm really bad at history but so far most of the little description bits I've done lean towards a vibrant medieval setting where dyes, spices and other exotic goods are more common place. For example every Noble's keep maintain's a common area where any travelers are permitted to rest for up to a week free of charge. These areas were initially encouraged by the Celestial Delegation, the state's religion, to further the idea of giving everyone the chance and opportunity to experience art, performance and the elevation of the soul that occurs with it. They quickly grew in popularity and grandeur as the Nobles found them excellent areas to display the work of their courts and the wealth of their lands. This combined with them being a free resting area for merchants means that common areas are vibrant explosions of trade, art and culture.

    3) The big theme for the setting is the conflict between creativity and talent as an expression of self and creativity and talent as a means of survival. The religions of the setting and cultures that have sprung from them all in some way encourage creativity or focusing on becoming an exemplar of your chosen craft. However they also all present their own ideals for how such gifts should be used and in service to you. Plus often pragmatic issues interrupt such ideals. The capital's common area is often overflowing with people. Leaving little room for more than a sleeping bag for private space at night and many a talented musician is left busking there after falling out of favour with their noble's view of perfection.

    4) There is no granularity, it is a hellish WIP and I don't even have a naming convention because names are hard.

    5) Travellers naturally group for protection and companionship. 'Adventurers' are often employed by Nobles, Trade Guildsmen and Delegation Priests to further a goal in towns and cities where the politics are too fragile to risk being caught performing improper acts themselves.

    6) Same as 4 but inversed.

  • admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Uriel wrote: »
    I really want to run Lancer.

    Or Dungeon World.

    I wish I had friends.

    Or was good at running games.

    you're probably good at running games, it's not really that hard and mostly just involves being self-aware and curious

    can't help the friends part.

    MatevAlbino BunnyRingo
  • The Hanged ManThe Hanged Man Once I ate a pizza so big, they gave me a prize. Then I threw up and they took it back.Registered User regular
    edited October 2017
    Battle Mall: On the Six Stores
    Ok, so thinking a little more about what the different Big Stores mean. I kind of want to design them as parodies of common adventure and platform game levels? Like this is the Ice Mall, this is the Desert Mall with a pyramid in the middle, but I'm not totally sure I'll go with that, it's just a concept that's making me laugh right now. But I've done some thinking about what ranks in the three clothing categories actually mean.

    Style 3, Durability 2, Affordability 1 - The true upscale store. This is the place that has the piano in the lobby playing live music instead of piping it in over the PA system. Stylish, but not trendy, and probably more popular with an older crowd. This is the kind of store where if you go in and are kind of shabby looking, they'll follow you around watching your hands, but they'll at least be socially conscious enough to be discrete about it. Video Game theme is "The Frost Palace", with a mirrors all over the damn place arranged to baffle interlopers and flatter customers. They know their clothes will look good on you, so they'll make sure you see as much from every angle. Also, at some point a rival sabotaged their AC, but they just leaned into it and transformed their domain into a winter wonderland (full of deadly Ice Hazards).

    Style 3, Affordability 2, Durability 1 - Trendy, fun, youthful! Sure, it's flimsy shit that will fall apart after a few washings, but you'll look real good in the meantime! Video Game theme is "The Desolate Paradise". The store used to have a fun summer beach theme, but the Queen of the Drinking Fountains managed to shut off their water supply and transform it into a desert. But the local clan has adapted, and converted to a sort of Music Festival style that mangages to glamorize the grit. The deeper reaches of their store transition from desert style to inferno style, where they actively worship and cultivate the heat, setting up torches and bonfires all over the place.

    Durability 3, Style 2, Affordability 1 - More of a "lifestyle" store than just strictly clothes, probably has a substantial outdoors/camping section. This is the place to get a suit tailored that may not blow anyone away visually, but it'll last forever. Decor probably features a lot of dark hardwoods and embellishments intended to evoke the private study of a gentleman adventurer. Video Game theme is "The Deep Forest". Dense layout featuring far more potted plants, and far larger ones. Taxidermied animals that have been modified with animatronic mannequin technology to become fierce attack drones. An extensive selection of sport rifles making them probably the best armed faction in terms of conventional weapons.

    Durability 3, Affordability 2, Style 1 - A blue-collar store that carries a lot of work clothes. If you need some steel toed boots and overalls, live in your stain-impervious nurse scrubs, or you're just comfortable wearing pants made out of tent canvas, this is the place to go. Video Game theme is "Industrial Hellscape". The natives have weaponized the extensive Power Tool and Hardware supply, and craft second-to-none armor from the Sporting Goods section.

    Affordability 3, Durability 2, Style 1 - This is like the place that sells the defective but not too defective stuff the other places would have thrown out. Except they're manufacturing it all on site with weird scifi tech? Maybe their fabricator is busted? Anyway, your shirt has one sleeve that's six inches longer than the other, but fuck it, you're just going to duct tape a bunch of scavenged cell phone covers to it to try to make a kind of plastic scale mail anyway, who cares how terrible it looks. The layout is much more open than other places, always looking sparse enough to feel like it's on the verge of going out of business. Video Game theme is "Windswept Waste", with the controlling clan having mastered ranged weapons and extensively modified the AC so they can use that open layout to harass intruders from a distance.

    Affordability 3, Style 2, Durability 1 - This is the Big Family store. Have you ever wished you could buy clothes by the pound? Is your minimum standard for clothing that it covers your nakedness? Are you most comfortable blending into the background? Do you have like nine kids that you need to shop for? Listen, this place's fabrication devices are junk, but they can crank out bulk orders like you wouldn't believe. It really shows, the way stuff is stacked up into claustrophobic ravines of shitty clothes. You never know when someone's lurking on the other side of a heap, waiting to cause a cave-in on top of you. And while their stuff isn't exactly haute couture, it's neutral enough that you won't look like a mutant wearing it. Video Game theme is "Labyrinthine Caverns", with the dim lighting and frequent bat attacks.

    The Hanged Man on
    TWITTER: @DesertLeviathan, PSN: LeviathanAscends
    3DS: 1590-4800-2407, SWITCH: SW-3925-2368-8101
    2kPRT5C.png
    tzeentchling
  • InquisitorInquisitor Registered User regular
    Are we including wargames in this general tabletop discussion?

    Also also, a couple of weeks ago me, my two brothers and my oldest brother's family all had a game night! We played Sushi Go! Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Exploding Kittens! It was great. I lost Sushi Go! I was with the non-betrayers in Betrayal and we won by the skin of our teeth and I got a smooth win in Exploding Kittens through sheer force of will and bluffing acumen, and not luck at all.

    We're looking to get together at least once a month and I'm hoping to get some Catan in next time.

    Wargames are the best games.

    Solar
  • OmnipotentBagelOmnipotentBagel Shell, Teeth, Eyes, Flame, Claws, Breath, Scales, FUN!Registered User regular
    Inquisitor wrote: »
    Are we including wargames in this general tabletop discussion?

    Also also, a couple of weeks ago me, my two brothers and my oldest brother's family all had a game night! We played Sushi Go! Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Exploding Kittens! It was great. I lost Sushi Go! I was with the non-betrayers in Betrayal and we won by the skin of our teeth and I got a smooth win in Exploding Kittens through sheer force of will and bluffing acumen, and not luck at all.

    We're looking to get together at least once a month and I'm hoping to get some Catan in next time.

    Wargames are the best games.

    I dunno, I hear they're good for absolutely nothing.

    9m1sgpgi7202.gif
  • UrielUriel Registered User regular
    Inquisitor wrote: »
    Are we including wargames in this general tabletop discussion?

    Also also, a couple of weeks ago me, my two brothers and my oldest brother's family all had a game night! We played Sushi Go! Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Exploding Kittens! It was great. I lost Sushi Go! I was with the non-betrayers in Betrayal and we won by the skin of our teeth and I got a smooth win in Exploding Kittens through sheer force of will and bluffing acumen, and not luck at all.

    We're looking to get together at least once a month and I'm hoping to get some Catan in next time.

    Wargames are the best games.

    I dunno, I hear they're good for absolutely nothing.

    Huh?

    Say it again?

    RingoOmnipotentBagelLord_AsmodeusRhesus PositiveMegaMek
  • InquisitorInquisitor Registered User regular
    There is much ado about nothing.

    Uriel
  • UrielUriel Registered User regular
    admanb wrote: »
    Uriel wrote: »
    I really want to run Lancer.

    Or Dungeon World.

    I wish I had friends.

    Or was good at running games.

    you're probably good at running games, it's not really that hard and mostly just involves being self-aware and curious

    can't help the friends part.

    actually the prep work is hard with ADD.

  • InquisitorInquisitor Registered User regular
    Uriel wrote: »
    admanb wrote: »
    Uriel wrote: »
    I really want to run Lancer.

    Or Dungeon World.

    I wish I had friends.

    Or was good at running games.

    you're probably good at running games, it's not really that hard and mostly just involves being self-aware and curious

    can't help the friends part.

    actually the prep work is hard with ADD.

    For time constraint reasons I’ve shifted to minimal prep games like dungeon world, They may work well for you?

    Sleep
  • ArdentArdent Registered User regular
    Weisman is a very smart dude, but you can tell that wisdom is hard-won. I mean, just look at Shadowrun and BattleTech/MechWarrior. What's the core fantasy of Shadowrun? Is it modern magic or supertechnology? What's the core fantasy of BT/MW? Is it giant mecha fights or running a mercenary company? They're good games, but they both suffer from a bit of opacity for the audience as to their intended "core fantasy." BattleTech without RPG elements, however, is excellent. There's no question what it's about and it's pretty good at what it's about.

    He also can't avoid advancing metaplots and, point blank, those tend to ruin everything.

    From my perspective, I think RPGs and novels exist in a world of equivalent granularity. It's not always true, but better novels tend to provide just enough detail for you to latch on to. Movies, as a medium, tend to have to be more about show than tell. Think about how the best books begin: a single evocative sentence that drags you into the world the author wants you to cohabit for a while.
    “An abandoned auto cout in the San Berdoo foothills; Buzz Meeks checked in with ninety-four thousand dollars, eighteen pounds of high-grade heroin, a 10-gauge pump, a .38 special, a .45 automatic, and a switchblade he’d bought off a pachuco at the border—right before he spotted the car parked across the line: Mickey Cohen goons in an LAPD unmarked, Tijuana cops standing by to bootsack his goodies, dump his body in the San Ysidro River.”
    - L.A. Confidential
    Are you from LA? Do you live the crime life? You fucking do now!
    "The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed."
    - The Gunslinger
    Now you know literally everything there is to know about King's magnum opus.
    "We slept in what had once been the gymnasium."
    - The Handmaid's Tale
    Welcome to the world: it's made of shit.

    But Weisman's best points are 5 & 6, and not understanding how to do these two things is where most would-be worldbuilding stumbles. If the heroes have no reason to stick together, why should they? (This is something GMs, too, need to keep in mind and why they need to exercise veto during character creation.) Similarly, settings that are too inhabited (and our favorite settings often are, but Forgotten Realms is a great example) are going to be far too constraining to allow a group or a GM to really spread their wings.

    Steam ID | Origin ID: ArdentX | Uplay ID: theardent | Battle.net: Ardent#11476
  • WACriminalWACriminal Dying Is Easy, Young Man Living Is HarderRegistered User regular
    Woke up with more ideas for the Battle Mall.
    - The most wealthy and influential figure in the setting was like some kind of 80's Madonna/Cyndi Lauper mall teen when contact with the outside world collapsed, but now she's more or less Aunty Entity through a filter of bubblegum punk. Her power stems from the fact that her gang's hangout spot was near one of the main drinking fountains, and she was able to direct her crew of roller skate barbarians to sabotage or commandeer other drinking fountains until a large region had to come to her for water. She's a relatively compassionate figure for this sort of setting, who ensures that people with extraordinary needs due to age or health are cared for, but everybody else has to pay dearly.

    - There are six major tribes that took up residence in the six largest Department Stores. Each of these stores carries clothes that represent a combination of three virtues - Style (you better believe having a fresh look will play a key role in your survival prospects), Cost (each of the stores has fabrication machines that must be fed materials to produce goods, with some requiring larger quantities or higher qualities of material), and Durability (how easily can your clothes be modified into Armor without ruining the look). So each of the six would have a rank of 3 in one trait, 2 in another, and 1 in the last. There is a seventh store full of clothing with balanced attributes (2s in all categories), but it is considered neutral ground at the center of the Battle Mall, and all factions have access to their fabrication machines. Clothing from smaller stores may go outside the maximum 6 point value, but is much more rare.

    - There is an arcade that is vast beyond all imagining. The clan of semi-feral Lost Boys who live here ran out of quarters ages ago, but still find the lights and noise of the demo videos comforting. They have developed a style of unarmed combat from imitating the Mortal Kombat machine that is deadly, if flawed. There is an ancient Sinistar machine in the deepest depths of the arcade that they worship as a Demon Oracle. Interestingly, this is the largest culture in the Battle Mall that is at all male-dominated, and has by far the most imbalanced gender ratio. But because they have no tolerance for Adults, young men are regularly harried from their ranks to go petition some other clan for membership. They keep their numbers up mainly by recruiting runaways, but also occasionally through kidnapping.

    - The food court was once the most hotly contested region. It's a wasteland now. Only the bravest scavenger crews venture in looking for ketchup packets and plastic straws. No people live there, but some thing does. There are stories of a second food court that is still pristine, but if it exists, it is beyond the Vale of Haunted Mannequins, the Clan of the Cutlery Store, the Spencer's Gifts, and other perils beyond imagining.

    - Wishing Fountains are seen as shrines to the mad god of this place. The coins of the ancient civilization have no real value any more, and are seen as mere curiosities, left in the fountains to corrode. Instead, people throw in small personal tokens - pieces of jewelry, the severed finger of an enemy, a punch card for the pretzel hut that is only two punches from a free pretzel. A secretive order of monks clean the fountains out and perform strange rituals with the offerings, but even the most hardened Mall Marauder would hesitate before harming one of these individuals, as they have displayed strange abilities to grant fair or foul luck.

    Fuuuuuuck I wanna play this.

    If you're taking requests...tell us about Chuck E. Cheese.

    ToxMvrckCharmyKristmas Kthulhu
  • admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited October 2017
    Uriel wrote: »
    admanb wrote: »
    Uriel wrote: »
    I really want to run Lancer.

    Or Dungeon World.

    I wish I had friends.

    Or was good at running games.

    you're probably good at running games, it's not really that hard and mostly just involves being self-aware and curious

    can't help the friends part.

    actually the prep work is hard with ADD.

    prep is bad tbh

    (I'm exaggerating but my prep for most games I run is about 15 minutes of reading my notes from previous sessions, a 15 minute shower where I think about shit, and then 30 minutes of typing. Most ideas I have come when I get bored of something and my mind wanders.)

    admanb on
  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    admanb wrote: »
    Uriel wrote: »
    admanb wrote: »
    Uriel wrote: »
    I really want to run Lancer.

    Or Dungeon World.

    I wish I had friends.

    Or was good at running games.

    you're probably good at running games, it's not really that hard and mostly just involves being self-aware and curious

    can't help the friends part.

    actually the prep work is hard with ADD.

    prep is bad tbh

    I at best know what the villains are doing, and how those plans affect the party given their relative positions during the previous game.

This discussion has been closed.