Friday, March 11, 2011

[RPG] Randomizers

Most RPGs have some element of randomization to determine outcomes and abilities- a die roll, a card draw, rock, paper, scissors- something. Most of these elements are fairly well delineated as solely for things the player does (or wants to do).

Examples include:Want to rob a bank? Roll me an intimidation and/or firearms. Want to jump across the chasm between two tall buildings? Roll me athletics or leaping.Want to go first? Draw a card and tell me the number and suit. And so on, depending on what system you're using and what feel you're going for.

Some of the randomizers are more random than others- a D20 is automatically more random than a 6. If you use suits of cards to determine whether something works, you're effectively using a D4- sufficiently less random than a D10.

Some of the more "random" options pull down the curve some by giving ranges where success or failure is possible. The D20 system is a good example- you "win" when you roll OVER a certain number, rather than being limited to a specific number (eg: you need to roll over a 15; not you must roll a 20). Other systems allow "cheating" by use of chips, points, pushing, cards etc.

What if you don't want cheating to be an option but use a system that allows it? Do you just ignore the rules that exist for fudging things a little? 

Other questions I'm considering are - what if an ability ONLY activates on a "16" (and not higher or lower)? How effective or complex might a system where abilities were strictly determined by a preset randomizing table, without any real wiggle room? What if you're looking for a truly "random" possibility? How would you accomplish that?

And then, how do you do it without interfering in the mood too much?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

[40K] Starting Over

So I am not the only person at our FLGS trying to learn either a new army or 5th Edition rules.

My buddy FunDave has been an Eldar player for as long as I've known him. He loves his space cows (inside joke) and I was really surprised to hear him not only TALKING about another army, but building a list for one. Even stranger (to me) was that it was a Marine army. FunDave's been pretty vehement that he doesn't "DO" Marines, and to see him pushing dudes with backpacks around seems very odd to me.

However, he wanted to try something different, and so he broke out Space Wolves the other night. He borrowed the guys to make up his list from another regular, and tried his hand at Puppies. I'm absolutely astounded to say that he won, despite being blown almost entirely off the board by his opponent. He seemed to have a good time, but I heard a lot of "what does that do, again?" over the chatter in the room. I guess starting something new wasn't so hard to someone that's actively been playing a lot for several years now. I'm glad to see FunDave doing something new. It means a shift in the balance of the meta at our store, and maybe will make him deploy differently. (He loves the all-reserve approach.)

Another friend was looking to get back into Eldar after at very long break. He wrote and brought a list based on old assumptions and discovered the units he used previously just weren't as good anymore. I think (but could be wrong) the drastic differences in effectiveness and editions really threw him off. He is trying again- looking at what he has and seeing how to use it (perhaps proxies or changing parts to be something else) so that he can join us. I'd love to see him play with us- he's really fun and I think our group is sufficiently without extra cheese that he'd have a good time.

Doing something new or different can be pretty scary. I know I waffled on playing again for a lot of reasons, but I am really glad I'm back in the game. I'm making friends, learning something, painting again (I FINALLY found a scheme I like after about 5 or 6 test runs) and enjoying the company. I'm playing like a total idiot, but I'm having fun (for the most part).

The store has renewed and/or fresh blood; new eyes and new perspectives, and I like that a lot. Our playing will be enhanced and our friendships will be enriched. It's pretty nice to see.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

[Weekly Whimsy] A Deeper Look, Part 1

[Welcome to Weekly Whimsy! A different discussion, delivering data dealing with determinations and debate; deconstructing dames, DMs and discourse.]

Hear the voices
All the people- INXS, All the Voices
I ran short of ideas for something completely new this week, but I've been musing on something “recycled” for a bit now. I was motivated to pick it up again after my post Friday. I touched on a cognitive difference in understanding, using and manipulating an entire system, and to some extent I attributed this to gender.

My own comments got me ruminating about gender differences in gaming (again) and caused me to recall the FGRT. I wanted to revisit my responses (as I was uncharacteristically brief) as well as talk a little bit about those that responded as an overall group.

I dropped a note to Zak, and he kindly agreed to let me take over his blog (sort of), so here I am with my unrestrained commentary. These opinions and thoughts are mine. I don't speak for all lady gamers.

In fact, part of my point today is that the female gamer demographic is exceptionally difficult to pin down, even when given the opportunity.

The roundtable was held here- on a massively popular gaming blog, and the post got tons of redistribution across the web. Despite all that, only about 15 women responded to the questions. I noted this on my blog and I think I came across in a way I didn't intend. I didn't mean that Zak wasn't doing a good job of reaching women – in fact, I think the opposite. My point was more one of- why the heck aren't they responding? Out of 600+ followers (which might be a fraction of actual readers); only FIFTEEN women commented? REALLY?

What could be causing this? I know there are active, intelligent and interesting women out there who game. Many of them have their own blogs and are producing compelling and creative content. Folks like 20 Sided Woman, Commissar Carrie, Hurricane Girl/Cami and more are out there with fascinating voices.

Why is it so hard to get them talking; especially to EACH OTHER?

I do wonder how much of the reticence to reply was solely out of respect to the sheer number of questions. If it had been 2, 3, or even 4 questions it's possible there would have been more plentiful responses. It's hard to know, but I'll be reexamining both the questions and replies very shortly, so perhaps some conversation will be rekindled.

One of the things that struck me most out of the replies was that out of the 15 or so responders, only 3-4 of the women GM. While most all of the gals had tried it, not many continued to do so. Is this due to lack of confidence? Performance anxiety? Deference to more dominant personalities? Concerns about balance and structure? Fear of developing worlds, settings  or characters that exist merely to fulfill wishes or personal fantasy, rather than exciting places and people?  I can't speak for other women, but I know I've been struck by all of these and more. I'm working to change my own personal reticence to run a game, and hope to be up and at 'em within a few months.

I've been blessed to be surrounded by an imaginative, embracing and truly supportive gaming community for as long as I can remember. I've made innumerable friendships that are becoming essential to growing my skillset and developing my talents so that I can be a fantastic GM. I know that not all of female gamers are so lucky, but might want to take a stab at running the show.

What can the gaming community do to help grow creative, evocative and capable female GM's?

I'm more than just a bit intrigued by the possibilities of more communicative and active female gamers, and specifically GMs. I think we'd all benefit from having more women around- and for reasons much deeper than scenery.

In my local meta, I am NOT alone as a lady player. I personally know  a good 10-15 ladies who game, and I'm AWARE of at least a dozen more via a LARP community. This particular sense of solidarity has given me a sense of security and protection in some of the games I play. This has allowed me to explore some very dark and non-traditional roles without any fear of imbalancing the game. I've grown out of my "nice girl" confines and become something close to fearless when it comes to playing rougher, darker and more nuanced characters - with a good amount of credit going to the other women around me.

The IDEA that I'm not alone has given courage when it comes to doing things that interest me, that are compelling, and are richer in nuance and voice. All of these points are in effect solely by having women as compatriots in or around the game.

What would it do to all of us in terms of gaming if the head of the table were a lady? Wouldn't we be enriched, challenged, driven and tested more; or at least differently? A woman's view of far-off worlds in action (rather than in print such as fiction) might reveal a lot, and give us much to develop.

I'd love to find ways to address this chasm, and maybe I'll strike on some ideas for myself as I continue on in examining the roundtable. Next week, I'll be looking at the questions a  little more closely; with my illustrious tag full in effect. I hope you'll join me, and even throw some comments my way!

Be Well,