GM Bully – feedback

I really like this video and I think you should go and subscribe to this guy right away. But I disagree on two points, and I disagree strongly enough that I felt I needed to talk about it.

1. I like it when players add to the story and try to drive it in their own direction. It is a great source of ideas for me and I don’t mind giving them narrative control like that since I know they are getting what they want out of the story. If what they are trying to add to the story doesn’t fit, like a magic shop on an island of cannibals for example, then I let them know that. If they persist after that, they are nagging and “bullying”.

2. I know that losing control over your only playing piece in the game is terrible. but many games, especially older games enforce this. If you are playing a fantasy game and a mage charms your character, or you are struck by a fear effect in a horror game, then you are compelled to act in a certain way, or not at all. Sometimes it isn’t obvious to the character why this is happening. Sometimes the source of the compel is unknown and finding out about it is a part of the mystery. If your GM says “you feel an overwhelming sense of dread of dread as you approach the gates and you turn away from them in fear” then you as a player should ROLEPLAY that out and go with it. Don’t ever assume your GM is trying to ruin your fun. There is a reason for whatever they are doing although it may not be apparent at that moment. Few things are worse than having to give away metagame facts (like invisible spellcasters or cursed items) just because a fussy player wants an explanation to a situation where they feel you “must” be breaking the rules. Don’t be that player. Wait until a break to bring it up. Let the GM know it bothered you, and if you aren’t satisfied with how it is handled, let the GM know that too… out of game. Maybe your playstyles just aren’t a good mix and you should not be gaming together. Whatever the case, there is no good reason to throw a fit and ruin the fun and immersion of everyone else in the game.

I am looking forward to seeing more videos from How to be a Great Game Master, and I would like to know what YOU think about the topic. I will be watching the comments on Youtube, or you can talk about it here. I am sure there are plenty of people reading this thinking “you should NEVER take away player agency over their own character”. So go ahead and shout it from the rooftops. I will be watching for it.
Game On!

What Video Game Roleplayers Should Expect At A Tabletop RPG

Aurican's Lair

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So as the title suggests, this is going to be an Educational topic for new players to the great hobby of Tabletop Roleplaying. This article is NOTgoing to be a “Tabletop RPG’s are better than Video Games” article or be a “Video Game Players can’t play Tabletop RPG’s properly” article. I too am a video game player and my intent here is to simply point out what a person who has only experienced Roleplaying through the virtual experience of video games can expect when they finally join a tabletop game. This will be in regards to any Tabletop RPG, but, for this article I will use a lot of examples from high fantasy games such as Dungeon’s and Dragons.  Also alot of these examples will be from what I have seen over my experiences.  Everyone’s experience will be different, but these will be helpful to anyone.


Backstory

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Ravenloft Scions

Ravenloft scions

What if the people who thought they escaped Ravenloft never really did? What if instead, mental projections manifested from their thoughts and ideas reached out from Ravenloft near areas where the dimensional boundaries were weak? These thoughts could be made real by the same reality altering powers which first spawned Barovian from Strahd in the first place. These are the energies which the plane uses to shape and reform itself to accommodate all the new lost souls who get pulled in. The powers which manifest the mists, allowing the sentient pocket dimension to tap other worlds for more souls.

So the mental projection, a perfect facsimile of the character, emerges from the mists feeling they have escaped from Ravenloft! But have they? There would still be the original soul, trapped in Ravenloft. That character would emerge from the mists back in demiplane of dread. Possibly in another location. They may not even realize they were still trapped. When they figured it out, it would just seem something went wrong, and they never really escaped. What they wouldn’t know is that no one ever does.

Instead, whenever a character leaves the mists there is a chance they send out a fragment of themselves, a scion, to another reality. The first scion would presumably be sent to the character’s home plane. It would be an exact duplicate of the character and no mortal magic or science could discern otherwise. However, each new one would be different than the last and be sent to a different reality. But the more times the characters try to escape, the more scions they make. The differences would start becoming more noticeable, different backgrounds, social positions, powers, alignment, items, etc.

The Lords of Ravenloft would rarely escape the mists, if ever. These are exceptionally evil souls which the Demiplane of Dread feeds on to create new realms. If the characters were to ever run into a scion of a lord of Ravenloft it would most defiantly exist in its home reality, and would be a perfect copy of the original entity. Deviation in the scions only occurs after multiple copies.

Others, including heroes of great renown, might try escaping again and again. Eventually giving up and submitting to a life in Ravenloft, waging war with its dark pawns. Each time they tried to escape they would have created another scion of themselves, in yet another reality. All these alternates scattered among the multiverse explains so many remarkably similar characters.

For example, Fistandulus from Krynn, Elminster from Faerun, and Etienne D’Ambreville from Mystara. All three of these characters are ridiculously powerful wizards with direct relations to gods of magic, avatars, chosen ones, etc. Consider the possibility that these characters are all scions of the same archmage trying to escape Ravenloft. We know that Etienne and his entire family came through an amber mist from Averoigne, a gothic horror France. And we know that they then disappeared again with their keep Chateau D’Ambreville through the same mist, only to later reappeared with a new chateau similar but different to the previous one. What if they never really escaped Averoigne? What if Averoigne is a realm of Ravenloft (based on the fiction of Clark Ashton Smith) and each time the residents of Averoigne thought they escaped, they instead they created another duplicate? Arch-mages across the multiverse who are immortal avatars of magic.

Sometimes a character in Ravenloft dies while there are scions out there in other realities. The demi-plane would recall one of its scions, typically the lowest generation, to take the character’s place. The scion would eventually realize, if not immediately, they are back in Ravenloft. Most often with anyone who was nearby at the time. They would probably start looking to escape again, possibly succeeding in creating more scions. This constant loop serves to draw more souls into the mist for the demiplane to feed and grow.

Compare the original Ravenloft adventures for the first edition of the game to the second edition material, and the third edition material, fourth edition, fifth edition. Ravenloft keeps changing and growing, feeding on the fears of its inhabitants and shaping itself to the evils of its Lords. Keep in mind however, the Demiplane of Dread doesn’t always follows the rules and nothing here is beyond its power to overcome. Weird things can happen, and if Ravenloft has need of a situation it could create the conditions whether it follows this format or not.

I think this not only explains a lot of things, like why people who have been to Ravenloft always end up going back, but it also gives to potential to create alternate versions of characters and even run dead characters by switching alternates.

These ideas come from partly from Marvel comics, with Kang and his alternate selves, or all the alternate spider-man incarnations. Partly from Star Trek with its alternate realities and the energy ripple in Star Trek: Generations. And of course ideas developed in countless games of Ravenloft game ran by fantastic DMs, including Dan Walsh, Mike Paulhus, Rob Cast, Ron Studley, Eddy Boswell-Correa, Evan Johnson, and others.

Here is an example; In a game run by Dan Walsh, we had the chance to escape the Mists of Ravenloft. There were two portals out, but only one was real. One portal led to a grassy hill, on a sunny field, with a peaceful hamlet in the background. The other one led to a raging storm-tossed sea; in the distance was a ship which didn’t look to have much of a chance against the storm. The heroes argued about which portal to take and ended up parting ways. The ones who went through the village portal found themselves still in Ravenloft. The scene was darker on the other side, the sky was gray and the buildings were worn. The mists are cruel and deceiving. The others found that they had escaped onto a ship, but that ship would eventually make its way back to the Demiplane of Dread. Ravenloft never really lets go of you.

None of this is meant to challenge any copyrights or intellectual property. I am just a very grateful fan who loves gaming and sci-fi/fantasy. Thank you to all the original creators and to the excellent Game Masters I have had the privilege to play under.

How Fate Works

How Fate Works006

I just had a conversation with someone about the Fate RPG, and I hit some points that I would like to share.

Fate uses Aspects instead of crunchy mechanics. Think of a large power armor suit. It would be;

  • Big and bulky powered combat suit.
  • Full sensors and life support for 3 days.
  • Has a long-range missile weapon system.

That is it. That armor is statted out and ready to play now. During the game, any time you would say “yeah but I am in this big and bulky powered combat armor”, then you spend a Fate point token to get a +2 or a re-roll of the dice. Simple right?

So it’s more about how well you describe your stuff, and how important that stuff is to you in game. If you have ever seen Guardians of the Galaxy, StarLord’s walkman is just as important to him and to driving the story, as his blasters or his jet boots. If you want your “Pet Slime Beast” to be as important as your blaster rifle you can put that in as one of your Aspects. Whenever you spend a Fate point token to tag your “Pet Slime Beast” in the story, it grants a +2 or a re-roll to the task at hand.
PLAYER: “but he lets stay for free because he can’t get over how cute my pet slimebeast is and couldn’t bear to turn us out into the cold… right?”
GM: “okay you get a +2 and the innkeeper lets you stay the night”.

Characters are made as a group because other people can tag your Aspects to give you Fate point tokens that you can use later for more bonuses. So someone could to tag your “Big and Bulky” power armor to say you can’t get around to them in time. You get a token that you can use for a +2 or a re-roll on something later. It is super fast playing and easy to grok once you let go of looking for stas and limitations that other RPGs have trained us to do.

The game uses funky dice, but it’s basically 4d6,

  • 1 or 2 is NEGATIVE,
  • 3 or 4 is NO MOD, and
  • 5 or 6 is POSITIVE.

So if you have +2 in Computers, and a “Neural Interface Jack”, your total modifier is going to be +4 with those tasks. You are typically going to get a Result of +2 to +6, with your actual skill (+4) being the most common result. It is possible to roll +4 or -4 and generate a Result very different from your skill (computers + neural interface + high roll could generate a result of 8!) But it is very rare. Tasks aren’t as swingy as a d20 game, if you are good you are typically always good. On the virtual game table everything is rolled with [[4df]], and I have set up a button to click to generate this result.

There are other facets of the game, such as Approaches and Stunts, but once you know how Aspects and dice work, you are ready to play. And now you are…