Saturday, 7 May 2011

Of My Love of Randomness...

I love crafting new characters. I always have since my first roleplaying chats to wrestling with the latest M&M rule-set until it did what I wanted.

I build characters in one of two ways:

  1. Create a concept and then try to stay as true as possible inside the realms of the systems. This usually works better with point-buy classless systems. But if you know the system/setting it can work with anything.

  2. Build a character mechanically and allow the choices to build a story in my mind. I prefer this method when I am unaware of the setting, among other things because it allows me to pour through the flavor text of my option and learn enough to actually build the character AND fit him in the world.

I must admit to a weakness for randomized chargens though. Because it liberates me from choice making and I can delve completely into the art of fleshing the character out.

I love it not only because it saves me from over thinking my choices, but also because it acts as a shield against the efficiency bores that like to comment on my builds. “I didn’t choose to be this gimped, blame the dice.” Now, of course I generally draw the line at a character that is so self-limiting he might as well just roll over and die, but it allows me to experiment with suboptimal (and thus hopefully, interesting) characters that even I would have not thought of before.

Some of my favorite randomized chargens are those of Teenagers From Outer Space, the random monster rules for Monsters and Other Childish Things and Dark Heresy (and the whole 40k series for that matter.)

The result of my latest encounter with randomized chargen is Mir, the Imperial Psyker of Feral origin. I rolled everything except the career path (because I wanted a psyker). He’s going to see play for the first time today, and to get a better idea of how his mind worked I wrote this: Personnel Files. I’m not completely happy with the second part, but I think I definitely have a better feel for the voice of the character.

May you dice land on the table!


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A Big Round Table

Summer’s rolling around at an ever increasing pace (from an unreliable point of view...namely me) and a lot of things are changing.

I will probably be heading home for the Summer. The downside is the heat will most likely do me in. For good this time. Upside is if I manage to subsist as a poodle of geek I will be running another few sessions of...well, something, but that’s for another post.

The reason for going home is that me and my better half will most likely be leaving the apartment we’ve been renting for the last couple of years and we need some time to plan, recoup and charge on.

This brings me to my current beef: A table.

Our apartment, despite its small size is actually quite comfortable for playing. We have a sofa and a comfy chair, a small round table and enough chairs. My current Sunday game actually holds 7 players plus myself GMing. And although sometimes it can become a bit hot and there is some jockeying for the best spots, we get along.

When you lack a table you can sit everyone at games are different, specially if you have (as is my case) too many players. Things become much less centered, already easily distracted players become attention deficit cases and in things like combat, they also become slower.

At first I could ignore a lot of this because we were all setting into a new system and some people were complete newbies to RPGs, but after a few sessions, the chronic lack of attention to the game is getting to me.

Now, I’m aware that people can’t be full on all the way through the session. Among other things, RPGs are social events and the break down into personal conversations and goofing around is what actually keeps a regular game going. This is all fine...but when I am in the middle of a battle between two armies, after some kind of time travel, and enemies that are inhuman. I expect at least 10 minutes of people paying attention and being involved with what’s happening.

Of course, I am also keenly aware that part of the job of keeping people’s attention comes down to the GM...and I have been lacking, specially over the last few sessions. But both factors seem to be feeding into each other and making improvement so much harder. Also believe me when I say I am very shy...asking for attention in that way is not just an ego thing, and kinda out of character for myself.

So: a table.

Not just any table, I want a big, ideally round, table. So that everyone can see each other, and there is space for character sheets, aids, maps, glasses of coke, GM’s screen, my notes, a half-empty dangling box of pizza and a laptop.

Is that too much to ask for?

I mean, at least I’m not asking for this.