Sorry, Bro, but what you’re saying is bullshit…

Warning:

Entertaining a thought“: you’re not forced to agree. You simply listen to what you’re being told and give it some, well, thought. Nothing more, nothing less. If you have a problem with such an attitude, reading following text might not be good for your mental health.

BTW, this is a bit long piece of text. You were warned.

So, let’s roll…

Sooner or later you’re probably gonna witness or participate in a discussion resembling this one. If so, perhaps this entry will allow you to cut to the chase (Bucyrus learned another expression!), rather than waste your time arguing needlessly.

It all starts with someone saying that one of popular games…

…is so flawed.

In what way?

Huh? For example its world. It’s full of contradictions. This is not how things work in real world.

Well, we’re living in a world full of highly advanced technology and people who still are afraid of hunger, thirst, sickness and violence just like they did back in times when we were just starting with that “civilization” thing. We have an almost Orwellian level of surveillance, everyone spies on everyone else and still people disappear without a trace, planes crash, buildings explode courtesy of terrorism and there are mysteries without solutions. We speak about conquering stars and we still have some parts of our own globe that aren’t fully mapped. We discuss most basic laws of the universe and we still have troubles understanding each other, accepting our differences…

Continue reading “Sorry, Bro, but what you’re saying is bullshit…”

Sorry, Bro, but what you’re saying is bullshit…

A disaster

Latest session didn’t end so well. We were running a relatively generic adventure and while there was no specific problems, we also didn’t manage to invest much effort and energy in the session.

People acted mechanically, just, you know “do this, do that, next stage”. Bucyrus acted as the GM, and while the problem was recognized, there was no way to tell what’s wrong and how to fix that. One hour into session we gave up and decided to simply drink our asses to stupor.

misc-dying_world

And it’s fine. Nothing wrong with that.

See, modern world is very much about meeting expectations. It should go at least like this and anything below is considered a disaster. While in many cases it’s true, it’s also true that sometimes a dish won’t be any good, even when you follow a recipe to the letter. Such things happen and it applies to pretty much every imaginable aspect of the reality, including role playing games.

Bucyrus recalls some documentary concerning erectile dysfunctions and whole branch of business dealing with its treatment. Creators of this documentary made a very important observation – problems “down there” just happen. Plenty of things influence that, including a diet, a state of mind, a weather, a lifestyle and so on and so forth. Unless it happens all the time, there’s nothing to worry about, really.

And yet, there’s a powerful branch of medicine that deals only with that problem and it makes billions of dollars each month.

What’s the trick? Very simple, really. All those people were convinced that there’s something wrong with them and informed that they NEED to make something about it.

Now let’s get back to the RPGs, shall we?

Plenty of people, especially newcomers approach the game with high expectations. The session is supposed to be this well, bah, it’s supposed to rival Tolkien, Lewis, Martin, your president and other people famous of their storytelling. The players are supposed to have so much fun that they will crave for more and more. They need to recognize this moment as one of most important experiences of their lives and thank their GM for allowing them to feel the spark of divine enlightenment.

This is wrong. This is so, so wrong.

See, there’s no workaround. No matter how good you are, no matter how well prepared, no matter what, there will be times when your skill will fail you and you won’t be able to do much about it. The part of becoming a better GM/player is to accept that shit will happen, period.

What to do about it? Rule of thumb: don’t panic. Don’t make a drama about it. And most importantly, if it rarely happens, don’t approach it like it’s some mystery that needs solution. Yep, screw those self-help advices that force you to break that experience to tiniest bits and spend time thinking what went wrong. Skip it. Don’t think much about it and don’t torment your players asking for a feedback right there, right then, when they still have a sour taste in their mouths.

Just let it go. And it will go away.

Next time will be better!

A disaster

No, my dear, YOU tell me

So, you’re an adventurer. You have lived for some time, you’ve seen some things. Even if you’ve never left your small village hidden deep in the woods, then you’ve heard some stories, some true, some false. It’s safe to assume that you have some knowledge about world you live in.

Now back to the table. You – a player – are asking your Game Master about some aspect of the world. He smiles back at you and says “you tell me”.

wh40k_heresy seal uno

But that’s a heresy! What does this dude want from you anyway? Isn’t it his job to describe the world & stuff after all? Lazy bastard! …And there’s this part of mechanics that deals with questions like this one. You know, you roll dice against your wisdom score, or some arbitrary set number representing the difficulty of this fact’s recollection. Last, but not least – how you’re supposed to know that? It’s not that you’ve studied the world’s setting, have in-depth knowledge… It’s your 3rd session in this world, for fucks sake!

And yet he asks you.

It’s obvious that you’re confused, perhaps a bit angry and reluctant to roll with it. So, you’re gathering all your strength and reason to formulate an explanation proving that you’re not the one who should answer that…

Wait. Think about the situation. What actually happened?

Yes, it’s possible that your GM is a lazy bastard and simply wants you to do his job, but it’s also possible that you were just given the possibility to influence the world your character lives in. Yes, you probably were just given the opportunity to become a lesser demiurge, co-creator of the world. Bucyrus encourages you to not waste it.

So what that you’re not prepared to do it? So what that you lack the knowledge about the world and don’t realize so many facts. So what that you don’t know whether it won’t contradict the official lore or the vision of your GM.

Just roll with it. Think about something at least remotely plausible and pass it as “way I’ve heard, the king is a massive coc…“, or “ah yes, the famous order of white Nuns – a friend of a friend told me once that they are not half that pure and clean as they say they are, in fact…” or something. Don’t expect it to be the truth, though. Your GM might use it in his story, but he doesn’t have to.

Damn, so why should I do it anyway? Isn’t rolling a dice easier? – you’re probably wondering, and yes, you have right. It’s easier to simply roll dice and hear yet another piece of information.

…but isn’t this funnier? Launch your own idea and it might fizzle and die. Then again, in the moment of some divine enlightenment, you might create a basis for a whole new story arc spanning across many new campaigns.

You’ll never know, until you’ll try.

Best of luck!

No, my dear, YOU tell me

STAGES: STAGE Master’s MAP

And here’s part II of maps covering the land of Fantasia – this one is meant to serve the SM (which is just a localized title for the guy playing as the Dungeon/Game Master).

Anyway.

Please note the difference between the shape of the landmass and an addition of two more places – Savage Archipelago to the west and Desert Lands to the south-west. Bear in mind that those lands are not exactly where they seem to be. If players choose to embark on a geographical expedition, their SM is free to change the distances and the placement of those additional lands.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

And the rest of the set…

Continue reading “STAGES: STAGE Master’s MAP”

STAGES: STAGE Master’s MAP

Stages: player’s map

The map of “Fantasia”, the world used as the default setting for STAGES was presented here and there in the past (hi guys!).

Yeah, “Fantasia“.

Bucyrus knows there are at least 5 worlds sharing the name. Unfortunately, Bucyrus is both lazy and highly uncreative person and therefore 99% of names, titles, images and ideas were “borrowed” from things existing in our world. So don’t be alarmed when you’ll recognize some familiar elements, think “homage”, rather than just “thievery”. There’s a reason for that – initially it was supposed to serve as the background for entirely different game and no more than a few sessions, so it was just a quick job and for that there’s no need to strain brain cells. That’s why Bucyrus has chosen names from his spheres of interest, rather than spent whole days trying to come up with original names, which, truth be told, rarely works well.

The result was quite interesting and critically acclaimed by those a few people who tried to play the game. That’s why “Fantasia” was chosen for the default world.

The map itself was made in either Hexmapper, or Hexographer and then enhanced in Photoshop. It took a day or two to create it from the scratch.

This image served as both a map and, ummm… “A Gazetteer”. You know, “here be evil empire, here be ruins to plunder and here dragons to slay“.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

And here’s the clean version…

Continue reading “Stages: player’s map”

Stages: player’s map

Everything’s a stage

Come to think about it… Did Bucyrus ever told a thing about his own little RPG titled “STAGES”?

Quick recap (that’s the word, right?) :

  • The game is based on some solutions borrowed from Old School Hack.
  • It aims to be quick to learn and easy to both run and play.
  • It’s more hack & slash than freeform.
  • It supports rather short one-evening, one-shots adventures.
  • It relies on the concept of “forget about tiny details and precision, weird and awesome behavior is what makes you survive
  • It features a few original (Bucyrus hopes!) solution, for example, a little twisted inventory management, “powers” based characters, a pool of “Story points” used to fuel different behaviors and influence the gameplay itself, combat matrix – a rectangle grid where players move their pawns according to the stage of the battle, etc, etc, etc.
  • It’s default world is generic fantasy with a few twists. There’s, for example, ruined world, “the Zone“-like scorched terrain where people find unknwon artifacts and more often – the death, typical depiction and an interaction between races are a bit different to traditional Tolkien-influenced settings.
  • While there are a few promising scenarios for the future, and main power players of this world are attempting to achieve their mysterious goals, there’s no single story arc.
  • The game is some year-two old.
  • It was translated to three languages already, despite being far from finished. None of said languages is English.

So, in addition to the usual writing, Bucyrus will try to present STAGES as best as he can, a few ideas at the time, until whole thing will finally be translated in a way that doesn’t force the reader to gouge out his eyes.

Stay tuned!

Everything’s a stage

Funny things that happened Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures

Let’s suppose that you’re a fan of those old-school fantasy role playing games where blood is spilled every other minute and hordes of enemies constantly threaten everything good and just, or at least dear to your heart. Now, let’s assume that you and your pals have little time and energy to set up a typical hours-long session and play it until you’ll start to see everything x3, or find yourself with no more alcohol to fuel your creativity.

It’s obvious that games like D&D, Pathfinder and similar are out of question because of their massiveness. One could try some lighter alternatives like 13th Age, or Fantasy Craft but let’s be honest here for the moment – while not as complex, in the end they require similar amount of time and attention to set up and run.

You could try Dungeon World or FATE, but bear in mind, that such games feature little strategy and tactics (at least in comparison to traditional fantasy games) and because of that, they are not for everyone.

And here’s where those small games, like Old School Hack come to mind. They are often very short to read, feature one or two witty and original concepts, miss a lot of content, leaving it for the players to figure out on the fly. In exchange they offer fast and funny gameplay in kind of black & white world where good is good and evil is evil, no-need-for-existential-conundrums-thank-you-very-much.

During his exile Bucyrus studied a very interesting addition to this pool, titled Beyond the Wall and other adventures. Like many similar ones it’s an old-school rpg, with rudimentary mechanics, simple but interesting concepts and vague, very typical fantasy world. And yet, when you’re halfway through a book, which happens to be no more than half an hour of your time (depending on your reading speed of course), you can’t help but think “Damn, this is what I want to try next with my brave band of social outcasts“.

There are nice reviews of the game already written, so no need to talk about details, but let’s just say that BtW is rather “local heroes” game than “big adventurers rescuing the world”. You play as a sorcerer’s apprentice, young soon-to-be knight, or still “green” huntsman (heh).

…and you have plenty of fun while doing it, even if the fate of whole world doesn’t rely on you and you alone. Enjoy!

rpg-beyond-the-wall

Funny things that happened Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures