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The Art of Gaming

Random ramblings on gaming of every make and design.

Reality Refracted
artofgaming
At the suggestion of several friends, I've moved this over to a new sight. http://www.RealityRefracted.com

I'll probably still post updates to here too, though that place is going to be getting the priority on being updated.

Player Character Progression
artofgaming
So, we've talked a bit about world design, a little about the opening steps to game design, about controlling the feel of your game in combat and other aspects of keeping things going. What we haven't talked about, and this is probably one of the more important aspects of game and campaign design. That question is where do we assume your players start, and how will progression be handled. These questions are more important for game design then campaign design, but understanding them can help you with plotting out a campaign. Particularly with things like "about when will my players go from the new kids to the experienced bad asses mechanically". That being said, lets start with the three general ways that progression is handled, before going into setting starting points.
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Game Design Journal #2 - M.A/C.C
artofgaming
When it comes to Game Design, as with almost any other kind of design, there are multiple theories on how to go about doing it. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone by now that I'm a fan of John Wick and his games, not to say that I like everything he does, or agree with all his decisions, but in general I like his games and I like his approach to game design. Since I don't have my own approach to game design yet, and with his beginning step fairly easy to use as well as setting a good ground work for what you want to do in the game, I decided to use that. The first step to this (really, the only step I know fully, after this it's just muddling around) is what he calls the 4 questions. The first three are from his friend (Jeff something I think), the fourth is his own. So, without further ado, the questons.

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Game Design Journal #1 - M.A/C.C
artofgaming
As you may have guessed, with the interest I have in the theory of game design and story craft, I also enjoy putting the theory to application. I've done this with a few botched attempts at making systems, successfully with what in the PC world would be called 'Total Conversions' of established systems (heavily modifying a system to do something it was not originally intended to do) to the point I'm fairly sure there isn't a genre I can't modify AEG/John Wick's Roll and Keep system to do decently, if not well. Lately though, I got hit by a design bug for a system that just wouldn't let me go. I seriously could not sleep for the better part of a week due to this. The result being that in a few weeks I have the base line for the system, essentially the large rocks are all in place in the jar. Though as I've found, with game design the first 80% can be done in less than a month if you have a solid idea, good flow of ideas, and people to bounce problems off of. The last 20% can take a LOT longer, getting all the bells and whistles, all the skills, advantages and disadvantages. Combining that 20% with play testing, balancing, revising, and that is where the real length seems to come in.

This is my first real solid push at making an entire game system, I've made a few half hearted attempts before, but this is the first real try. That being said, this is also my time writing a Game Design Journal, so it is a learning experience for me as I'm going through. That being said, let's get into it.
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The Simplest RPG You'll Find...Probably
artofgaming
So, while thinking about what I wanted to put up for today's post I remembered a comment a friend made earlier in the month (year, it's January, I can say either one :D) about a type of game he wanted to see. So, since this blog is all about game design, I figured why not actually do this system in the blog so people can see game design at it's most basic sense.

John Wick (of Legend of the Five Rings, 7th Sea, and Houses of the Blood Fame) says that when you are designing an RPG you need to figure out what you game is about, then figure out how to be about that, third you figure out how to reward the kind of actions you want around that theme, and lastly how do you make it fun. In general I agree with this, however there is a simpler way to make a game. Maybe not a game for long term play, but a game that will definitely fulfill everything you need for that quick RPG fix. How fun it is, well, that will depend largely on the people playing it. For those wondering, that one thing you need is a way to resolve conflict. Traditionally this involves dice, but this is the simplest game ever we're making right? So lets get right down to it.

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World Building - Part 1
artofgaming
 No matter for what medium, if you're planning on telling a story you're going to have to do at least some world design. There are tons of different theories on how to go about making a world all over the place, and in time I may even go more in depth into the intricacies of it, or at least the intricacies of how I do it. For now however, I think I'm just going to go over some of the basics, as well as three questions you want to keep in mind whenever you are world building. So let's get started then.
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Upping the Intensity While Keeping Combat Moving
artofgaming
One of the harder parts when it comes to gaming I've found is large combats. In a book, show, movie, or video game large combats are absolutely awesome to see. They're big, dramatic, and action packed. So why doesn't this always convey over to table top? The answer is amazingly simple for most places, and that is that it is hard to feel the action and tension when it is taking upwards of an hour to resolve 6 seconds of action. I went over this a little bit in the Round Timers rant I posted a couple days ago, but I figured a different look into it would also be good. Especially since one of the easiest ways to up the intensity in your combat, is also something that will make everything more dramatic and fun at the same time. That thing isn't a mechanic for the game, but on you specifically as the GM, and it is simply. Keep things moving.

Think about it, even assuming you have 9 players (with you that makes 10 people total), a round taking 60 minutes of game time means that everyone is taking 6 minutes for their turn on average. Why is this? Honestly, it's probably because people aren't using their time well. They're not thinking about what they want to do until you look to them and say "your turn". This doesn't do anyone a service, especially them, as they just add to how long it takes anything to happen and thus increases everyone's boredom.  This happening is why a lot of GMs won't run for groups larger than 5, but the problem can happen with those groups as well. Look at your players during combat, how many of them are paying attention to what is going on? How many of them have their heads in the clouds thinking about other stuff, or are talking to another player while they wait for their turn? This isn't doing anyone any favors, let alone the game as a whole. So what can we do about it?

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Names
artofgaming
So everyone who runs games has come across this at least once. You're running the game, things are going smoothly and then the PCs take a left turn where you expected/wanted them to take a right. They start pursuing a lead you'd completely forgotten, go somewhere you have no preparation for, and the next thing you know you have NPCs that need to appear, personalities that need to go with them, and most importantly, you need names.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I am absolutely horrible at coming up with names on the spot, which is why I decided to share two of the better name generators I've found as well as some other tips and advice that I've found works for both the spontaneous NPC and the planned and important NPC who also needs a name.
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Round Timers and You
artofgaming
No matter what the game you are playing, Round Timers are important things to keep in mind. They tell us one of the most important pieces of information when it comes to combat, namely, just how long passes in between rounds. This is also one of the more frustrating parts in gaming at times, when you realize that what took you an hour to do sitting around the table was actually only six seconds in game time. This gets even weirder in some games when you look at what actually just happened inside of that time frame, and when you are adding other dramatic elements to things such as the cops arriving or people racing to the rescue, can be downright awkward. Depending on the feel of your game or the type of players that you have, you may want to modify how long a round is in your game. With that in mind, lets take a bit more of an in depth look into round timers.

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Greymoore - Session 1
artofgaming
So, as I posted earlier my current every other Friday game is trying for something a bit more experimental than our usual table top sessions. We've decided to try doing a campaign that runs and feels like a fantasy novel, complete with a main character who is The Hero while everyone else plays the supporting main cast for him on his journey. Last night we had the first session of this game, and by all accounts it went a better than expected. A real plus for me, as I'm absolutely dreadful at beginnings.

For system, we've modified the Roll and Keep system designed by John Wick for AEG. It's featured in Legend of Five Rings and 7 Seas. For this game we've modified it as presented in Legend of Five Rings 3rd Ed, with some rules taken from 3rd Ed revised. I honestly love this system, and for games where you want dangerous combat, and an ability for players to show just how skilled they are, I don't think I've seen better. At least yet, I am trying to design one. For now though, this is my "Go to" system when asked to run something random.

Before the session can be explained though, first we have...The Cast!
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