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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Role Playing Games - The Old School Way

Back in the days when only Cpt. Kirk and NASA had computers role play games where played very differently from the way most experience them today in the Internet age. This genre of hobby was the purview of the kitchen table and the local hobby shop; a universe in which the monsters and heroes found their courage flowing from uniquely numbered dice and the pages of a book. In the beginning Role Play Games or RPG's refereed to any game in which the participants assume roles, often as fantasy characters in a scenario that develops as the game progresses. The first widely known game Dungeons & Dragons originally by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, first published in 1974 by TSR was set in a mythical medieval world. Since then the genre has grown to encompass a wide variety of games that take place in an endless number of settings future, past, and present that have a similar means of play.

The basic aspects of what makes up an RPG can best be described by braking down the different game elements. The first is the "game world or universe" and comprises the physical aspects, realities and relative era in which the game takes place. Each RPG game exists in its own universe where certain unique realities govern the various scenarios in the games scope. The second is "game mechanics" and refers to the system of rules and die rolls used to determine the outcome of player actions. Most RPG games have a similar approach to game mechanics as far as die rolls but vary widely in player character options. The third is the game scenario which is usually made up of a back story, location information, and lists of hazards and treasures relative to the adventure being undertaken by the players. There is generally a goal to any given scenario to give the players a rational for undertaking the hazards involved.

Tabletop Role Play Games (sometimes referred to a pen and dice RPG's) are universally run by a moderator often referred to as the game master who is both the administrator of game rules (who must possess copies of the rules texts) and a story teller. The game master takes on multiple roles playing (acting out) the parts of the characters and monsters that players encounter in the adventure. The game master will utilize scenario texts to describe the scenes to the players keeping certain information confidential until the players actions warrant discovery. This can best be illustrated by a simple scenario where there is a room that contains a secret (hidden) closet that contains an item of value. The game master would describe every detail of the room as the players enter but not reveal the hidden closet until the players actively search for it; and then only if die rolls (as required by game mechanics) indicate they have found it. It is not the game master's job to trick the players or engage in adversarial play rather it is their job to utilize scenario texts to lead the players on an adventure.

The players of an RPG take on different persona's based on possibilities presented by the game universe. In most games they have the choice of playing mythical creatures such as elves, dwarfs, or humans who possess skills such as sorcerers, thieves, or warriors. The players, utilizing the game rules, create player characters using die rolls to determine specific physical attributes such as strength, intelligence, magical ability etc. They then equip these characters with basic clothing, armor, and weapons as well as provisions and tools in preparation for upcoming adventures. The goal of the player in any RPG is to advance their character in ability and wealth through the undertaking of hazardous quests. The same player character will usually have many adventures in many different scenarios within a given game universe becoming more able to face greater challenges for greater reward as time goes by. It is quite common for players to identify with their characters as they become experienced through continuous game play. Over time players and game masters become ever better at the role playing aspect (acting out your character) which in turn makes the games an ever more immersive experience.

The appeal of tabletop RPG's is both escapism and social interaction with a group of like-minded friends. Unlike the on-line versions the tabletop RPG gamer comes together with friends and family on a regular basis to experience adventures in strange magical lands. Many groups dress up in costumes or meet in a special room they have decorated to set the mood. Still may more simply game at the kitchen table till the wee hours of the morning battling dragons, saving the universe or unlocking the ancient secrets of fantastic treasures.

The author J L Arnold is the creator and author of the RPG APOCalypse 2500 a pen and dice post apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy role play game set in a 26th century world where magic has returned to human kinds high tech science fiction future.

Copyright ? J L Arnold all rights reserved

Male Vs Female Role Playing Games

First please note that this article is not saying that all women are one way, and that all men are another way. This is just an attempt to understand some of the statistical differences in the trends between the type of imagination games that women prefer as opposed to those that men prefer.

In order to understand the difference between men and women in role playing, all you have to do is watch a group of children play make-believe. If you watch closely you will notice that the boys are usually engaged in some activity in which something has to be accomplished. This can be a fight they have to win, a princess they have to save, or something similar. By contrast, the girls are usually engaged in a very social experience, in which the interactions between themselves and others, as well as the feelings of everyone involved, are more important than the goals being accomplished.

This carries through to the types of games that men like as opposed to those that women prefer. For instance, statistics show that there are 5 males for every 1 female that are signed up as members of the popular online role playing game World of Warcraft. That is probably because this game is a very mission oriented experience, in which players go around killing monsters for points to make themselves stronger, and gold, which they can use to buy better weapons, which allows them to kill stronger monsters and get more points and gold. There are social aspects, in that you can talk to other players from around the world, but these conversations tend to be mostly about how to accomplish the goal at hand.

By contrast, games which are marketed at women tend to be more social in their dynamics. One example would be the huge hit "The Sims", a game in which you control the everyday lives of a normal group of people. You can have them make friends, form relationships, break up, have fights, get jobs or any normal activity you would expect from an average person. In the game, there is no clearly stated goal. Instead the appeal is that you get to create and control social interactions between virtual characters.

The general consensus is that girls don't like role playing games. However this is more due to the fact that the term "role playing" was co-opted by Dungeons and Dragons, and turned into a largely goal based activity, i.e. kill the dragon, save the castle, etc. However this ignores the social aspect of the game, which is actually much more to the liking of most females.

In recent years the internet has made it possible for so many different types of role playing communities to flourish, that social based games are starting to become more prominent. Aside from character based forum role playing, you now also have fictional social networks, where members sign up as made-up characters, and interact with one another in a MySpace style website.

This article was written by Joseph Gambit on behalf of [http://www.FiCTR.com] - the world's first role playing social network [http://www.fictr.com/forum/topics/male-vs-female-role-playing], where you actually sign up as a made up character, and then interact with other members to create storylines through forums, blogs, chat rooms, and a variety of group options.

Role Playing Games - Builder's Guide 5

The Challenge: A role playing game should be versatile. It should allow various different types of characters, all of whom can interact effectively with each other. However, game balance alone is not the only difficulty when making a versatile game. The fifth challenge of creating an RPG comes into play: the challenge of game consistency.

Although players like variety, the point of having a role playing game system at all is to impose some degree of functionality to the game rules. Available abilities, what level of power the characters have to be to do certain things, and so on. This is game consistency, the ability for players who understand the basic rules to generally predict how individual rules will interact with the game as a whole.

An RPG displays its consistency in a number of ways. Character power is chief among them. Although one might say that any foe can be dangerous, a character who can reliably take on an adult dragon should not have to fear a street urchin with a knife in anything that even vaguely resembles a fair fight. A character who can spot the rare and subtle mistakes of a master assassin should have little difficulty locating a scared child hiding beneath a table. Extenuating circumstances might apply--if the warrior is sleeping or the scout isn't even paying attention to its surroundings, for example--but generally speaking, characters of a given level of power should always possess the advantages of that level.

The basic game rules and rules for character design are also important. If the monsters and villains have different design rules than the characters, it leads to inconsistency. An individual group might purposefully limit character options based on genre or level of power (you simply cannot play an ancient dragon if the story is for low-level adventurers). However, this is the group's prerogative. If the game applies the limits for them, it inhibits both variety and consistency, because now the game either shortchanges or overpowers the players' characters in comparison to the opponents they will encounter.

The Risk: An inconsistent game runs a greater than normal risk of being an imbalanced game. The same rules should apply in all situations. If they don't, it creates a loophole to exploit. You might think that offering lower-power characters certain advantages (beginner's luck, maybe) over much stronger foes, but all this does is cheapens the value of character power and compromises the consistency of the game. If characters of different levels of skill exist in your RPG, they should have all due advantages over less adept individuals.

An inconsistent game also prevents the players from fully understanding the game rules as an overview. They have to learn every single detail to prepare themselves effectively for a game. Sure, this level of preparation is laudable and often tactically valuable in any case, but it should not be a requirement. A role playing game remains just that--a game. The moment it becomes more work than fun, it ceases to be successful, no matter how versatile or balanced it may be.

An inconsistent RPG often makes players feel like they don't actually have any control over the flow of the story, always a bad thing. As was noted in a previous article, if players wanted to passively watch a story unfold around them, they could read a book or watch a movie. Inconsistency limits the player's ability to make rational choices, because there may always be some other rule or modification that throws them off. This example may hold true only in extreme cases of inconsistency, but remains an important point to note.

Inconsistency doesn't always weaken players, though. It also threatens balance by creating loopholes. In an inconsistent RPG, certain things follow different rules, and some of those rules are probably more or less beneficial than other ones. A cunning player will notice these options, and learn how to exploit as many as possible to create a much more powerful character than the game intends.

The Solution: The reason that I continue to use the preference system for QoTR is because it solves so many of these challenges in and of itself. If all characters, player and referee alike, follow the same rules for character design, have the same availability of abilities, and get the same benefits and limitations from their choices then the game maintains consistency.

The preference system not only helps consistency by keeping the rules working the same, but also by allowing players to choose their abilities regardless of character type. A mage can be stealthy and resistant to damage--necromancers, nature mages, and earth/air elementalists would all fit easily into that category. A warrior can attack multiple foes at once using swift weapon katas. A rogue can heal using pilfered devices or herbal potions brewed with the same knowledge that it uses to create lethal poisons. In this way, consistency actually improves variety, rather than opposing it.

Game consistency allows players to get the most out of a role playing game by understanding all the rules, and being able to utilize them effectively. An inconsistent game runs the risk of overpowering or shortchanging players due to loopholes and unexpected rules. By using the same rules for all characters, the game maintains consistency and can even offer improved variety, without sacrificing game balance.

Copyright © 2006 Dustin Schwerman.

Dustin Schwerman has been playing RPGs for over a decade, using an analytical approach to critically evaluate the game systems (and so to create the most powerful characters he could get away with). He used the extensive experience gained doing so to create his own game, Quests of the Realm. QoTR focuses on unlimited character customization, relying on its author's understanding to detect and counter game-breaking power plays. Though balanced, QoTR still allows players to create highly effective characters and run them through heroic story lines. To contact Dustin, read more of his writings, or learn more about Quests of the Realm, visit his web site, Quellian-dyrae [http://www.quelliandyrae.com].

15 Ways to Alienate Fellow Role-Playing Game Members

You're currently in a Role-Playing Game campaign that you desperately want out of, for some reason. At least, it seems that way to your fellow players, because you spend most of your time ruining their fun. You are the thorn in your party members' sides, and not in an endearing "villain NPC" sort of way. They not only dislike your character, but they genuinely hate you as a person. The only reason that they continue to play with you is that everybody is too polite to ask you to leave.

I could write an entire article on the things that you should do while playing a tabletop RPG with your friends. I could also write a long rant on the things that you shouldn't do. I have decided to combine them both into a list of 15 simple suggestions for how to alienate your fellow players. By following these suggestions, you should be able to ensure that you will never be invited to play in another game of Dungeons & Dragons, Shadowrun, or any other tabletop RPG ever again.

1. Whine

Whine about everything and anything. Whine that it's too cold in the room, whine that you're hungry. Whine that nobody "understands" your character. Whine that you never get good equipment. Whine that nobody ever does what you want to do. Whine that nobody else in the group likes you, while wondering why.

2. Antagonize other characters

Be a big jerk! Constantly harass and antagonize the other player-characters and NPC. Incessantly pick fights with other PCs and NPCs. Don't just do it occasionally, do it all of the time, every session. Don't let a single session go without trying to bash another PC's head in, or trying to taunt them into attacking you. Irrationally destroy important relationships with key NPCs. Constantly double-cross your party members. Intentionally get them killed whenever possible. Make your character completely, thoroughly annoying and unlikeable. If he would just die, the other party members would be relieved.

Claim that this behavior is justified because you are "in character".

3. Bring personal issues into the game

You really hate one player's girlfriend, who is also in the campaign. This is the perfect opportunity to vent your hatred in an acceptable manner. Make sure that you constantly antagonize her character (see suggestion #2). Say horrible things to her in-character that could easily be translated into direct insults to the person playing that character. Make sure to tell her (in-character to her character, of course) that she is fat and stupid and lazy. Feign innocence when the other players chastise you for this. Make sure that you are completely unhelpful to her in combat. If you are the Cleric, conveniently fail to heal her as necessary. When the other players criticize you for this, blame it on her inability to properly play the game.

Angry at another player (who happens to be your roommate) for some reason? Make sure that this makes it into the game. Be a total jerk to his character. Make sure that you take off when he really needs your help in a fight. Make snide comments all of the time about how his PC never does the dishes after everyone has finished setting up camp. If you are completely unable to deny it/worm your way out of it, claim that it was "just good-natured ribbing".

If you have a social/political agenda, the current campaign is the perfect place to champion it. You have an axe to grind, and not just the one in your character's hand! Bully anyone who tries to politely tell you that perhaps the fanciful realm of Zun'zuban isn't really the place to confront real-world socio-political issues. Name-calling is often effective in such a situation.

4. Harass the other players

Really, why just focus on that one player's girlfriend? That's selfish. You should spread the joy! Take suggestion #3 and apply it to ALL of the other players! You'll be the most popular member of the group.

Make sure that you constantly hit on PCs of the opposite gender, especially if you see that it makes the player playing them uncomfortable. When they protest, accuse them of being up-tight and uncomfortable with their own sexuality. Do things specifically to make the other players uncomfortable (such as kicking kittens). When they tell you to cut it out because the vile things that your character is doing is bothering them, tell them that it's just a game and to grow up.

5. Swear

A small amount of profanity will honestly not bother most people. A lot of people don't care if a profane word slips through your lips on occasion. Some people do get offended, but you're bound to know this if you know them or their friends (see suggestion #6: "Be purposely offensive"). Go above and beyond the call of duty, though: swear constantly. Insist that this is necessary and "in character". Everyone will love you - I promise.

6. Be purposely offensive

This is slightly more specific than simply harassing the other players. Don't claim that "what's offensive to some people isn't offensive to others". That isn't the issue at hand.

You are not stupid. You know what things you say that could upset other players. You know what is socially unacceptable. You know that you shouldn't use certain slurs when a member of your group is of a certain ethnicity or has certain religious beliefs. You also know that projecting said slurs onto fantasy races instead of 'real' ones is pretty transparent. Be a sexist pig, if you can manage (both genders are equally capable of this, I assure you). Make the other players as uncomfortable as possible.

Your current group members may have a higher tolerance for offensiveness or harassment than most people, but everybody has a limit. At some point, you cross it. Being blatantly offensive is not funny. At the least, it's annoying. At the worst, it's infuriating and disgusting.

7. Alternatively, be offended by EVERYTHING

You firmly believe that this fantasy setting is not politically correct enough. This setting is clearly sexist. You can tell that the writer of this RPG was a misogynist/misandrist. You find Halflings offensive because you think that they are making fun of people with disabilities. You find the term "blind fighting" offensive because you think that it's a jab at the visually impaired. You are offended that this setting's cosmology has multiple deities. You are offended because this setting's cosmology contains the WRONG multiple deities. You are offended that this setting contains magic. The villain upsets you because he does REALLY MEAN THINGS! Be sure to interpret the most innocuous and innocent statements as being specifically intended to offend you.

Your vocal insistence that everybody always be nice all of the time, that all potentially politically-incorrect or even vaguely offensive terms are forever banished from the game, that nobody ever role-plays somebody with gender-related emotional issues, and that villains never do mean things, completely sucks the fun out of the game. Not everything in the world (real world or fantasy world) is designed specifically to offend you. Please stop.

8. Refuse to be a team player

Everything is about you - always. Your character is the most awesome character in the world. You don't NEED the other party members. The other party members' characters will never be nearly as awesome as yours, and you make sure that you tell them this on a regular basis. You could kill 20 dragons by sneezing. Seriously, you could.

Take every opportunity to wander away from the group. Refuse to go along with whatever quest interests them at the time. Always insist that everyone do what your character wants to do. Make sure that the entire game has to revolve around you or your character by being completely uncooperative unless it does. If you're a Cleric, NEVER heal your party members. To further refine the lone-wolf approach, see suggestion #9 ("Cheat").

9. Cheat

Cheating is admirable and acceptable. Anything that gives you an "edge" over the other players is a good thing. Team-work is for sissies! Fudge dice rolls and secretly edit your character sheet. Look for loopholes in the rules system. Try to manipulate combat mechanics when the GM is distracted. Make claims about non-existent rules or false claims about existent ones. When all else fails, flat-out lie. After all, nobody wants to spend half an hour digging through an obscure manual (that nobody but you owns, and you conveniently forgot today anyway) when they could just take your word for it and get on with the fight. So that nobody else suspects your dishonesty, be sure to regularly accuse other players of cheating.

10. Nitpick

Nitpick everything and anything. Nitpick the setting, and nitpick any and all details the GM mentions. Nitpick the GM's interpretation of some of the vaguer rules. Nitpick how other players handle themselves in combat. Nitpick the GM's description of a Troll Hunter. Nitpick the GM's judgment call on the DC of a Balance check. Whenever you see an opportunity, just go for it. The only regrets worth caring about, are the ones of things that you didn't do.

Make it clear that none of the other players know how to properly play the game. Give them blow-by-blow accounts of exactly what they did wrong and where after every session. Explain how they are role-playing their characters incorrectly, and what they should actually be doing. Be fair, though - make sure to point out the GM's ineptitude regularly as you pontificate. The other players will appreciate your constructive criticism, and thank you for it later.

11. Argue about everything

See also: Suggestion #10 ("Nitpick").

Never forget that the two most important things about game-play are:

1.That you are always right

2. That you always have your way

It's a well-kept secret that if you bully the GM enough, he or she will let you do whatever you want. Argue about alignment-checks, game mechanics, and setting details. The other players will give in to your yammering just to shut you up. You're fine with this, since they did what you wanted. Whether or not they still like you is irrelevant; you got your way.

12. Interrupt everybody. Constantly.

ESPECIALLY the Game Master. Make sure he or she can never finish a single sentence. Do this with completely unrelated things, if possible (shouting internet memes or simply screaming incoherently also works well). This is best done when the GM is trying to describe an important location or relate an important story detail. Having your character constantly interrupt other characters and NPCs is also effective.

13. Become infuriated when other people play differently

There is a "right" way to play a tabletop RPG and a "wrong" way to play a tabletop RPG, and by gum, you know it! Don't find out ahead of time how the other members of your group handle their role-playing games, and refuse to adhere to their obviously incorrect social mores. Your way is right, and their way is wrong. That's just how it is!

For example, your group members often violate a sacred and unspoken law and break character. Metagaming is your pet peeve and makes you incredibly angry, so make sure you have the mother of all hissy fits when they do this. Of course, you never told them, but your group members are psychic. They should know this. Despite the fact that the other 4 members of your party are fine with Metagaming, make sure that you rant incessantly whenever one of them mis-steps. This will endear you to the group and result in you being invited to future campaigns.

Alternatively, you might insist on Metagaming when the other 4 members of your party are against it and explained this at the beginning of the campaign (it's even in the House Rules!). It upsets them because they don't like in-game discussions of game mechanics getting in the way of the actual game. You don't care about immersion, so why should they? You want to know how many hit points the monster has. Become furious when the GM won't tell you. Whoever wrote the aphorism "When in Rome..." never set foot in Waterdeep anyway.

14. Talk on your cell phone during the game.

You can roll dice and chat at the same time, right? Make sure that you never differentiate between what you are saying in-character and what you are saying to the person on the other end of the line. Chat during important events, such as combat encounters.

Wander out of the room regularly. Not while your character is uninvolved in what is currently going on (such as a different location), though. Make sure that you are in the kitchen when you are up in the combat queue. When somebody finally comes to fetch you, act irritated that they interrupted your phone conversation.

You can also practice casually not paying any attention at all between turns. A laptop with an Internet connection is exceptionally useful for this. Make sure you giggle/guffaw, sneer, and type loudly while the other players are trying to role-play.

15. Take Metagaming to a new level: punch your Game Master.

Hands-down, the fastest way to get kicked out of a game, and the culmination of all of the above suggestions. This is essentially the physical equivalent of your in-game behavior. If you are going to be a social bully, you may as well admit what you are and be a physical one as well.

If you follow these suggestions closely, they will quickly result in the intended effect: getting you tossed out the door. You didn't like those guys anyway, right? You'll just find a better group.

Why doesn't anyone want to play with you?

Rihana runs a website providing free tutorials, icons, and wallpapers at http://www.deathbycute.com

You can also view her personal portfolio at http://www.heavyartilleryrpg.com

Functionality and Replay Ability - Two Important Values of a Good Console Role Playing Game

The video game world has provided years of entertainment and enjoyment to people. One of its genres, the role playing genre, provides you with a creative game play. This is shouldered by a plot to support your game. Of the many RPGs out there, sometimes, reading reviews can help you select the game of your preference. Also, you do need to consider other things in order to know the makings of a good console role playing game. When you decide to play a role playing game, you should keep in mind two important aspects: functionality and replay ability.

Functional Value

Whenever you start playing a game, you should be aware on how to handle the controls, and other technical details. This is important because a game is something you interact with. You experience game play as you tackle obstacles to reach a goal. A good game contains elements of ease and at the same time, challenge. You can easily just grab the controller or press the keys and feel comfortable knowing what to do.

A functional role playing game combines elements of active game play with entertainment value. Even though some games may require simple controls, one that is functional will keep you entertained for hours on end.

Other than control focus, a functional RPG has a plot that is filled with many story elements. They should come together seamlessly with the game play. Once this unison is established, your game play can be a very enriching experience.

Replay Value

Replay value is the tendency of a gamer to play a game again. Most role playing games are only good for a single play because they typically have one plot to focus on. Once you've reached the ending, you might stop playing after that. Most developers work on increasing this value in newer RPGs to give more replay ability.

Replay value can be achieved in two ways: having multiple storylines and having a well-developed storyline.

When a game has multiple storylines, it has a very high replay value. You can go over the story again and have the different twists in the plot because of the game's added capacity. You should remember that multiple storylines are great to have in a game, but, they should not become unrelated to the main plot.

A well-developed storyline also gives way to replay value. This one is based on the interests of the gamer. If you play a game and you enjoy the story, you could play it again for the entertainment. Sometimes, some of the plot elements come so subtle that they have connections to other events in the game. Once you play the game again, you can easily see how things actually fall into place.

As gamers engage in RPGs, they look for quality and entertainment. Functionality and replay ability helps you enjoy the most of your game. You can consider these when deciding to play another role playing game.

Michael has been writing articles online for 10 years. Not only does this author specialize in self development, health, and gaming, you can also read out his latest website http://www.denoncdplayers.com/ which help people find more about Denon CD Players and information when shopping for one.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dare to Role Play Using Online Role Play Games

Role playing is where you take on the role or behaviour of another being like a person or animal. You can do it in an acting profession where people take on a different role either fictional or non-fictional, for human development sessions to help people with their problems, issues, concerns, dreams as in psychodrama and in a fictional setting such as taking up characters in role play games including online role playing games.

So if you dare to role play using online role playing games then read on further. You need a good computer set up including a good monitor, integrated speakers for great sound and a fast, active internet connection. Dial up will be too slow for most gaming situations. Then you can check out what it is like to be a warlock, vampire or elf. Maybe you are a shy person and would like to be a prom queen for a while or vice-versa. Basically there are role playing games on anything to tempt your taste buds. Just check the rating on the games as some games are rated for teens and older whilst other games are rated for most ages. Parents, just keep an eye out on what your children are playing.

Role playing games give you a chance to relieve some tensions, work out your aggressions or just to enter a fantasy world where you can just be someone else for a while.Some of the games are free whilst others require a membership fee either by monthly subscription or a one off fee. There are different fee structures and the more you pay the more you get in your fantasy world with props, graphics and more realistic situations. It is great to start with free games especially if you have never played online games before. Then it is up to you if you want to try a paid membership site.

Let's take a look at a few Role Playing Games. There are many more in a variety of different genres.

1. Castles and Crusades: published by Troll Lord Games in 2004 and inspired by dungeons and dragons.

2. Vampire Clans: This game is set in the dark and consists of ominous music and shadows. It is a war game where you kill off your enemies and seek out new skills, new capabilities and new weapons.

3. "A Realistic View Of Life": You are a young adult who is looking for a job, going out on dates and out to restaurants and other places to eat. In fact you are in a virtual world of doing what people do in the real world. And the graphics are life like and bright.

With these games it is important to realise that you are role playing in a fantasy world that is not real life. Be careful not to mix up your real life and fantasy life. These games are addictive and some people get fully immersed for hours. That's fine, but switch back and enjoy your real existence.

With all this given information, do you dare to role play using online role play games?

Maybe you are not keen on online role play games but could be interested in other online types of game.


Maybe offline games could interest you more.

Improving a PC Role Playing Game

Computer Role Playing games have borrowed the idea of pen-and-paper role playing game and converted those into games that can be played on a computer. In the game the player plays a character which is a part of an intricate plot developed based on some fantasy tale.

The character which the player depicts has a group of followers who are out on a mission or quest. They have magical powers and skills to handle weapons. This group, following a set of rules and map of their advancement face a number of mythical enemies. The aim is to defeat the enemies, collect powers, stamina, and weapon skill on the way and reach the goal.

The computer role playing games run on certain mechanics or rules. These rules lay down what the characters could or could not do to make the computer follow the actions of the player and non-player characters.

These mechanics often intrude into the game restricting the characters to be creative. Learning the rules every time before playing the game could be boring for some players. This could be dealt with if the games are more generic and has more adventure and backgrounds than rules. The rules that are there for magic or combat etc. can be unfolded as the game progress.

Another point regarding the rules that would increase the charm of the games greatly is to incorporate some kind of unrealistic elements. These games are after all fantasies so the players are not going to be much concerned about realism.

These stories are not set in the real world so the characters' ability to do impossible things is perfectly normal. When you are playing Super Hero it is but natural for you to have a set of rules and attributes which sets you apart from common man.

When the players are engaged in playing a CRPG they are in a fantasy world and not expecting to be related to the reality. So trying to connect the rules to reality has its own problems. It restricts the players' ability to play on his or her own way. A CRPG should give the players the freedom to role play which is quite exciting and play it as he or she goes along.

Any CRPG should be a mind teaser. Planning the next move, solving problems, and taking split-second decision is what will keep the players interested in the game. They play to have fun and have some good time getting away from the reality. Any good Role Playing Game should be developed keeping this in mind.

For more information about getting the most from RPG's visit: Improving a PC Role-Playing Game

Free Online Role Playing Games - Take a Break From Reality

Role playing games have become immensely popular in the last few decades. They provide an excellent way to get away from the boredom of stress from your normal life and escape into an exciting fantasy world. No matter what type of fantasy world you dream of escaping to there is a role playing game out there that you are certain to enjoy.

One of the benefits to playing free online role playing games, besides the awesome fact that they are free, is the ability to choose what kind of world you want to delve into. There are many different types of free online role playing games ranging from complete fantasy to the more realistic life simulation games. So whether you want to be a hunter running around in a fantasy world slaying different beasts or live the life of a doctor living in the big city there is a role playing game made for you.

The other major benefit is the ability to socialize and play with many other people from all around the world. There's nothing like coming home from a long day of work and going hunting with a group of other people destroying monsters or playing disc jockey for an online club full of other people listening to the music you choose and put on while they dance. You can socialize and interact with others, do things you never thought possible; it's one of the best away from the stress and grind of day to day life.

Now that you know about all the amazing and entertaining things you can enjoy playing free online role playing games I am sure you are wondering where you can find and enjoy these alternate realities. There are lots of places that offer free online role playing games, some that you can play right in your internet browser and some that are even more elaborate available for download. If you are bored or stressed with your current reality then you should try an alternate one today for free. It's guaranteed to provide you an exciting getaway from the life you're currently living.

Trey Parker is an avid online video game enthusiast and author. He manages an online gaming blog that offers his readers insight on the best free online game sites and offers.

Role Playing Games - What Are They All About?

A role-playing game (RPG) is a type of game where players assume the roles of imaginary characters in a scenario created by the game developer and vicariously experience the adventures of these characters.

In role-playing games players often team up to generate narratives. The play progresses according to a preset scheme of rules and strategy, within which players may invent liberally. Player options shape the course and conclusion of role-playing games.

Role-playing games are usually more gung-ho and casual fun than competitive. A role-playing game unites its participants into a single team that fights as a group. A role-playing game rarely has winners or losers. This makes role-playing games uniquely different from board games, card games, sports and other types of games. Role-playing games attract because they fire the players' imagination.

There are many different types of role-playing games. The PC-based RPG-s of today aren't an original genre; they are derived from board-based or real-life games that have been popular with children and even grown-ups for a long, long time. One such RPG might involve guests at a dinner party acting out suspects in a murder mystery, while another might involve players sitting around a bonfire and narrating parts of a story and rolling dice. Another RPG might consist of costumed participants recreating a medieval battle with padded armor and heavy weapons.

At their nucleus, role-playing games are a form of interactive and mutual storytelling. Simple forms of role-playing exist in traditional children's games such as "cops and robbers," "dogs and mailmen," "cowboys and Indians," and "playing house" or "doctor".

The original form of role-playing game was the fantasy war game, inspired by brave knight and witchcraft lore and using minute figures and scale terrain grids to demonstrate action in a way similar to that of strategic war games.

Role-playing games have rules known usually as game mechanics. Almost all role-playing games require the participation of a game master (GM), who narrates the game session and acts as the moderator and rules arbitrator. The rest of the participants create and play inhabitants of the game setting, known as player characters (PCs). The player characters collectively are known as a "party".

Internet role-playing games range from graphical games such as EverQuest to simple text based games. They can also be divided into genres by the imaginary locale where they take place. Fantasy RPGs draw their inspiration from fantasy literature, such as the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. The best games in this field are Dungeons & Dragons, Exalted, Palladium Fantasy, RuneQuest, Legend of the Five Rings etc.

Science fiction RPGs are inspired by science fiction literature. The setting is generally in the future. The popular games are Rifts, Traveller, Cyberpunk 2020, Paranoia, Shadowrun and so forth.

Horror RPGs are inspired by horror literature. Horror RPGs can be divided into two groups. The first is inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft, focusing on humanity's fight against malevolent, extra-dimensional entities. The second centres around playing supernatural creatures, such as vampires, changelings, and werewolves. The top titles are Call of Cthulhu, Kult, World of Darkness Changeling: The Dreaming, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Requiem, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Werewolf: The Forsaken, Hunter: The Reckoning, Orpheus, and Mage: The Ascension.

Historical RPGs, as you can probably imagine, take place in the past. Settings that have been explored in role-playing games include Pendragon (based on Arthurian legends), Sengoku (about Japanese warring states), Recon (regarding the Vietnam War), Fantasy Imperium (takes place in historical Europe).

Superhero role-playing games are inspired by superhero comic books and graphic novels. The major games are Champions, DC Heroes, Marvel Super Heroes, Mutants and Masterminds.

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The Popularity of Role Playing Games

Do you like to play role playing games? These games were really popular when I was a little kid in the 80s. Role playing games are games that call for characters and dressing up in costumes. You will know that these games still exist and are rather prominent in some circles if you get on the Internet frequently. These games will give you the chance to live vicariously through some outrageous character. However, you need to remember that it's just a game. Serious problems can occur when an individual fails to remember this.

A particular game immediately comes into my mind whenever I hear the words "role playing games". If you are less than twenty years old, then you may not be able to guess this one. Back in the 80s, it caused quite a ruckus after a certain incident. Let me help you out if you can't seem to recall the name of this game. This famous game was known as "Dungeons and Dragons."

I can only remember watching the cartoon because I was still a young kid when folks were playing it. A few college kids became far too engrossed in the game itself. It's kind of like the way films work. There is something called the diagesis with movies. The diagesis is the world of the film. Of course, viewers should keep that world separate from reality. Anyway, the college kids who enjoyed the Dungeons and Dragons game became too involved with their characters. This ultimately and sadly resulted in death. I believe it was by a sword. This incident could have been prevented if they separated role playing games from real life.

Did that Dungeons and Dragons story intrigue you? If it did, then you might be interested in going out to see what role playing games are big now. Well, I really can't blame you. After all, truth is often more interesting than fiction. However, fiction tends to be more entertaining on a certain level. You can simply hop on your laptop to find today's most popular role playing games on the Internet. Hopefully, you won't confuse the games you find with reality.

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Free Mass Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games

Role playing games have moved to the mass market online. Players can find some of the best multi player action for free in several sites. Role playing games now open up an incredible world for fans who were once limited to playing with people at their dinner table. Now, players can join together with others from all over the world and enjoy free games with increasingly complex multi player scenarios.

Online multi player games include fantasy, war, first-person shooter, strategy, and even rhythm/music games that offer excellent graphics and intricate scenarios. Dungeons and Dragons continues to be one of the most popular role playing games in the world. However, as more players move online, they are finding many new choices for role playing games that aren't found on the mass market.

Players can now focus on one game that best matches their interests. Websites bring together players that enjoy the same kind of role playing games and create a more involved scenario. Games can last for months, and the involvement of players becomes more intense as the game advances. These games can also involve dozens or even hundreds of players based around the world.

Online games allow players to interact with each other, keep track of points, and continue scenarios over a long period. Players can also meet new friends and find people who are interested in the same kind of things as they are, something that was next to impossible just 10 years ago. The internet has brought about many changes, and makes it possible for role playing games to offer incredible new opportunities for fans of this type of online game.

Find the best free online role playing games and join with the mass of fans that have already moved on to the internet to enjoy the unbeatable action and detail of these incredible new games. Choose from games such as first person shooter games, strategy games, fantasy games, war games, and even build your own railroad and struggle against other tycoons.

For more on video gaming, visit http://gamer-revolution.net to read about How To (Legally!) Copy Your PS2 Games or the fans and pans of violent on line games to PC and Nintendo games, and much more!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Online Role Playing Games, Soundtrack or Your Own Mix?

So you're sitting there, or standing, or whatever position you happen to play Online Role Playing Games in, you find yourself poised with the inevitable difficult decision of: "Do I listen to the Free Online Role Playing Games soundtrack or play my own music mix?". If the MMORPG has no soundtrack or the music just flat out is horrible, well then duh your going to dig through your old vinyl (OK well make search your mp3 directories) for your most choice music for your Online Games.

Personally for me, if the Online Games have a great soundtrack that really fits the atmosphere of the game, I'll rock whatever it is that they have going on. In most cases I find that Free Online Playing Games have pretty sub par music or none at all so I will put on whatever I'm grooving at the moment (currently Primus and Prince, and no I'm not going alphabetically, it just kinda happened). Whatever your taste in music, there will be something that will fit all Free Online Role Playing Games.

OK I can remember one time lugging my heavy ass 21" CRT monitor and PC over to my buddy Kurt's house for my first MMORPG "Lan Party", if you can call it that lol. Well at this point I've only really just played whatever the game throws at me. We were in game runnin through some forest killing goblins or something and all of a sudden Kurt plays some Joe Satriani on his stereo, and haha let me tell you; things went from a nonchalant grind to an all out kill fest. It was great, thanks Kurt.

Now here's an option I've seen used a few times. Play another games soundtrack over the missing or crappy one. Now this is not something that I have done, but hey why not. The Final Fantasy VII soundtrack is badass over just about anything, but I'm more of a funky bass groove kinda guy. But hey genre is not so much important here, it's whatever helps you accomplish your Online Role Games goals. Whether that be escaping into a fantastical realm of a surreal nature or going into a raging murder blood bath. It's all good.

A few MMORPGs out there have done a great job of providing their own in game music. One example that I think of is Wow, granted they are short clips (you can repeat them) I find them really enjoyable and incredibly fitting to whats going on around you. Hats off Blizzard on that one. Truly an excellent maker of Online Role Playing Games, granted not the only skilled game makers out their. There are quite a few others.

Whatever be your choice, just be aware of the fact that you have an option. A lot of people will just sit there and let silence subconsciously bore them to the bones while they are playing otherwise great Online Games. Well, that or have pure virtual rubbish crammed into their brains. There is no need for this my friends, go grab some good music (if you're not sure what this, go ask your parents or hell grandparents) and rock out while getting down with Free Online Role Playing Games.

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Role Playing Games - Builder's Guide 2

The Challenge: The term is role playing game, not roll playing game. As one can deduce, then, a large part of what makes these sorts of games different from others is that the players are taking on the roles of others. In an RPG, each player has a character that it plays the role of. Although a large part of character design lies in stats--the character's ability to solve challenges in the game world--the very name of the game genre indicates that at least as important are the specifics of the character. Thus we have the second challenge in creating a balanced role playing game: the challenge of character detail.

This is to say, to get the most out of any role playing game, players have to be able to know who their characters are as much as what they can do. Physical appearance. Personality. History. Nature. These are all aspects of the character that the player can choose to help make his or her character more real.

But there is more to it than that. What happens when the character uses its abilities? Does it wield paired swords in a complex series of katas? Does it work long-forgotten spells it picked out of musty tomes? Does it utilize incredibly advanced alien technology?

Detail also plays a role in stats. How great is the warrior's strength, the wizard's knowledge, the cleric's insight, or the rogue's wisdom? What about the alien's will, the robot's items, or the pilot's accuracy? How much can the barbarian lift? How far can the psychic teleport? How many soldiers make up the warlord's army?

A role playing game that focuses only on the combat stats and abilities is leaving out much of what it means to be an RPG. Some might say that these things should be the player's to decide. Well, yes, every bit as much as a player should be able to decide its skills and powers. However, this does not mean the player has free reign over every little detail. These things can matter in the game world. The designer, then, must take them into account and establish a firm base of rules for them.

The Risk: A slipshod job of details can lead to significant delays during the game as players try to figure out exactly what their characters can do. Sometimes it is important--even critically important--to know if your character can climb a certain wall, figure out a bit of lore, or teleport a given distance. If the referee of the game has to handle all these questions with ad hoc rulings, it will create an inconsistent world, which weakens the game.

However, it is also important not to put too much into your miscellaneous rules. This leads to complicated referencing for every action a character might need to take, and may also cause contradictory rules. Also, you want to avoid situations where it takes a long time to build every character. Some players may like to spend hours thinking about every little skill and ability their characters possess. Others do not.

The Solution: In QoTR, I found that the best way to go was with a rules base that can be easily applied to any situation, and that dovetails with the core creation process. I didn't want to add extra steps to character creation unless they could be in a sense optional. The result is a broad-based system that can fit into a variety of situations, but relies on generally the same core rules for each, much as with the combat rules. It also opens up a number of possibilities for future supplements.

I use three main systems to classify details. For most of the truly miscellaneous details, there is a simple rule: describe your character how you want, provided it reflects your stats. Just because a player describes its character a certain way does not mean the character gets any advantages (or suffers any penalties, for that matter). So if a player makes a thirty-foot-tall, heavily muscled giant with a greatsword, for example, it had better select some offensive abilities.

For most non-combat actions, I use a system of attributes. Each preference (a group of related abilities) has two attributes tied to it, which the player can switch on character creation. The character's attributes determine how effectively it handles non-combat challenges. This system allows for precise character details, but doesn't require that the player spend extra time on attributes if it does not wish to, since it can just leave them tied to their nominal abilities.

However, most role playing games offer more than mere attributes and imaginative details. Special powers such as flight, telepathy, and water breathing are all common in many role playing game genres. QoTR uses a system of special ability groups much like (and tied to) preferences, with an ability point system for customization if the player doesn't want to use the default selection. These abilities are broad-based, like much of the QoTR system, so players can tweak or fit them to any character type or genre.

Non-combat actions are an important part of role playing games, and no RPG is truly complete unless players are able to describe their characters. Any RPG designer would do well to focus intently on this part of the game design process. The best tactic I have found is to design a system detailed enough to cover any situation, but simple enough that it won't bog down the game.

Copyright © 2006 Dustin Schwerman.

Dustin Schwerman has been playing RPGs for over a decade, using an analytical approach to critically evaluate the game systems (and so to create the most powerful characters he could get away with). He used the extensive experience gained doing so to create his own game, Quests of the Realm. QoTR focuses on unlimited character customization, relying on its author's understanding to detect and counter game-breaking power plays. Though balanced, QoTR still allows players to create highly effective characters and run them through heroic story lines. To contact Dustin, read more of his writings, or learn more about Quests of the Realm, visit his web site, Quellian-dyrae [http://www.quelliandyrae.com].

Role Playing Games - Builder's Guide 4

The Challenge: An important challenge in creating a role playing game--and one prone to be overlooked--is the challenge of game variety. Many role playing games are genre-specific, their rules geared to only a certain game style. Indeed, some RPGs specify more than just genre. The game world, story line, even play style are all used as factors in game design.

Not all RPGs worry excessively about this. Many use a specific game world or story line setting to benefit from brand loyalty and recognizable realms and characters. However, the more variety the game makes available, the greater the game's potential to draw in players.

In any case, particularly specific role playing games fit their niches well enough. The designers who truly have to worry about the fourth challenge are those who intend to create a reasonably broad RPG. The fact is that role players demand variety. Browse the web sites (or even the banner ads!) of a few on-line role playing games, and you will quickly find that one of the most common selling points is the number (and, sometimes, unpredictability) of the character types they offer. Role players enjoy having a lot of character types to choose from. A fantasy game that only has fighters, wizards, clerics, and rogues won't cut it, as won't a sci-fi game where the only choices are astronaut, robot, and alien.

Crossovers are also becoming popular in some groups. There are plenty of players out there who would much prefer a game where robots and aliens can fight alongside fighters and wizards. And if there is a superhero or two in the group, so much the better!

But for a game to provide such options, it must be versatile. The RPG has to be able to support not only the vast (infinite?) number of character types that imaginative players might think of within a single genre, but if you want to cater to crossover players, also to the possible character types from other genres. And you have to do so while maintaining the first three challenges, and the six that will be provided afterwards.

The Risk: So now you know why it is good to make for a game with variety. So let's say you intend to do so, going all-out with any genre possible. Good!

Here's the problem.

You immediately find friction between this challenge and the third challenge, character value. Technological development insists that a sword is a better weapon than a club, a gun better than a sword, and a laser rifle better than a gun. So how are you supposed to maintain character value between a party that consists of a cave man, a medieval knight, a modern soldier, and a futuristic robot?

You also need a solid and balanced way for forces from opposed genres to interact. Consider magic, superhero powers, technology (both modern and futuristic separately, of course), psychic abilities (possibly differentiating between aliens, gifted modern humans, and mind-crafting mages), and simple physical prowess, to name just a few broad groups of abilities. Can you reliably say that any of them trumps the others? If so, you are shattering character value. Do they interact at all? If not, there is no way for such characters to defend themselves against one another, turning any cross-genre encounters into "who goes first" tests. Perhaps certain powers interact in superior fashions, each having ways to counter others? Too complicated, with too much emphasis on certain abilities. Players wind up locked into a multi-genre arms race rather than able to play the characters they want to play, which simply counters the point.

You could have each sort of ability working in a different way, but again, the complexity is there. In that case, it's almost like you're creating a different role playing game for each genre, and collecting them all into an anthology. This naturally leads to too many supplements, and a feeling that players have to buy them all to keep up to date. Good for business, bad for players, and very bad for attracting new players to a new RPG, where there is no brand loyalty getting them to buy even the core book, let alone supplements.

And, of course, there is the problem of interacting abilities within a single character. What happens when a robot learns magic or a cave man develops psychic powers? How about a superhero wielding an enchanted greatsword in one hand, an antimatter rifle in the other, and a wand of fireballs telekinetically? Players want to have access to such character types. They have to be taken into account.

The problem is that the more rules you have for describing different abilities, the more likely it is for those rules to interact in a critically unbalancing way. Next thing you know, characters have gotten around every limit you place on each genre, and used cross-genre abilities to improve their power more in a multiplicative fashion than an additive one. Variety is what players want, and it is the hardest thing to give them without breaking the system.

The Solution: As I noted in previous articles, the core rules for QoTR rely on a selection of broad ability types, each with lists of advantages that a character specializing in the ability can gain. Unlike many role playing games, the actual abilities the character has and the player's description of its abilities are not tied together save for to assert that the description must emulate the stats. Of the various systems I have tried, I found this to be the best option for allowing unlimited description, versatile stats, and balanced character value.

Put simply, a swordsman who specializes in attacking and defending is no better or worse than a robot, modern soldier, or caveman of the same level who specializes to the same degree. Discounting specifically chosen penalties, they all have access to the same abilities and have the same stats. Their descriptions, however (and possibly the abilities that they use most frequently), will vary widely.

There is the potential for some glitches in realism using the system, but realism is actually little more than a sub-genre in and of itself. Some RPGs make a terrible mistake of assuming that players wish to play a realistic game. In QoTR, I handle realism by putting it in the player's hands. If you want to play a realistic game, build and use your character realistically. The game rules allow plenty of leeway for character design, so players should suffer no real penalty for electing to limit their actions to realistic levels. There are options for unexploitable hindrances (yes, unexploitable) that players who wish to realistically limit their actions can use to get higher stats in other areas or other bonuses. Also, many abilities have a cost to use anyway; ignoring two abilities only gives you two more uses of the ability you really like.

Variety is one of the most important aspects of a role playing game, and also one of the most difficult to properly use. Assumptions and excessive detail can lead to imbalances that only squelch the opportunity to use the versatility offered to its fullest extent. To best encourage variety, design a system that allows players to build characters they way they wish to play them, and forces them to play their characters the way they built them.

Copyright © 2006 Dustin Schwerman.

Dustin Schwerman has been playing RPGs for over a decade, using an analytical approach to critically evaluate the game systems (and so to create the most powerful characters he could get away with). He used the extensive experience gained doing so to create his own game, Quests of the Realm. QoTR focuses on unlimited character customization, relying on its author's understanding to detect and counter game-breaking power plays. Though balanced, QoTR still allows players to create highly effective characters and run them through heroic story lines. To contact Dustin, read more of his writings, or learn more about Quests of the Realm, visit his web site, Quellian-dyrae [http://www.quelliandyrae.com].

Role Playing Games -- Builder's Guide 1

The Challenge: Character ability is the first thing that any role playing game designer should consider, and in many ways the most important. Fortunately, it is also generally the easiest to perfect in and of itself. The challenge of character ability comes from the need for a variety of character types, each with their own unique capabilities.

There are a number of possibilities for solving this challenge, each of which is generally viable. Perhaps the most common one is the set "character type" role playing game. Using this system, all players choose what sort of being their characters are from a list of possibilities. This style of RPG is often broken down into two or three lists from which the player makes one (or sometimes multiple) choices. Perhaps the most common example of this style is where the player chooses a certain type of being and a certain profession that suits the game's theme. The choices made, and the character's level of power, determine what the character can do.

Certain designers prefer a skills-based role playing game. Using this style, players have a number of points or other units of measurement, which they can spend on certain abilities, powers, attributes, skills, or other advantages. This style offers more flexibility than the previous type of RPG, at the expense of more work on the player's part.

Another possibility is the ability list role playing game. This style is somewhat similar to the skills style in that players choose from certain abilities to build their character. The difference is that instead of selecting from certain abilities, players select lists of skills, gaining all abilities appropriate to their character's level found on their chosen lists.

Combinations of the three are common, often using one system as the base with another for certain parts. For instance, a role playing game might use a character type system to determine which skills or lists the character can select from. Alternately, an RPG might use an ability list style, but also have points to choose which abilities within those lists the player can select from.

Other combinations are possible, as are other styles of design, although these three make good overall categories. Each has its merits, but likewise, each comes with potential disadvantages.

The Risk: Although character ability is not a difficult challenge to meet, the style a role playing game designer uses here will affect every other challenge in the RPG-making process. Characters are the most important part of any role playing game, as they represent the medium that the players use to interact with the game itself.

The rules for creating characters are the most important when concerning issues of game balance. If characters are too powerful, the game is not challenging and thus less fun. If the characters are too weak, the game is overly difficult, and likewise less fun. But perhaps the most important consideration is the worry that certain character options will be more or less powerful than others. This prevents players from fully enjoying the sorts of characters they wish to play.

Future articles give more detail on the concepts of balance and character value in a role playing game. For now, bear in mind the pitfalls of each of the above three primary styles.

The character type system is the least versatile of the styles, as players have less option to mix and match their abilities. However, it can be the most balanced, as you know exactly what each character type can do. This is one of the fundamental rules of RPG creation; the more choices the player can make, the more likely it is that the rules will interact in an unforeseen way to give that player an undue advantage or disadvantage.

The skills system is the most versatile option, and as such, carries the most risk for balance. Players using this system not only have full creative control, there need not be any specific rhyme or reason to the choices of abilities. Combinations that might otherwise be impossible might very well become common. Even if the designer balances all of the abilities individually, the skills system, especially at its most versatile, offers the most potential for unforeseen imbalances.

The ability list system holds to an average point, which in many ways gives it the both the advantages and disadvantages of both RPG systems. The list system, especially depending on the number of lists available, offers the potential for unforeseen combinations. Importantly, just because players purchase entire lists of abilities does not mean that the potential combinations of individual abilities cannot become overpowering. The list system does tone down on combining only the most powerful of abilities, though, and also tends to lessen the actual number of choices a player can effectively make.

The Solution: In the role playing game I created, Quests of the Realm, I use a system balanced somewhere between the abilities and the skills system. Players have a number of points to devote to ten different lists of abilities, with the points spent and their level determining which abilities from the list they get. Players cannot select individual abilities from a certain list, but must pay all requisite costs to get to the higher-level abilities of each list. Generally speaking, a player can specialize in three or maybe four of the ten lists. There are also certain aspects of creation that use a more standard skill system, which generally have limited effect on combat (where stats are most important).

To make this system work, I use a number of tactics to minimize the disadvantages of my chosen styles. One of the weaknesses of the list system is that it might limit creative control some. To solve this, I keep the lists broad in scope. For instance, there isn't a list for weapon skills, magic, psychic powers, and so on. There is a list for attacking, defending, stealth, and the like. It is a strict rule in QoTR that the description of a character's abilities must reflect the character's stats, but do not affect them. A mage is not necessarily better at dealing massive damage to multiple foes than a warrior, although certainly a warrior who chooses to be strong in such a field is going out of the box for its archetype.

Using this rule, players may create any sort of character they wish, without fear of limiting their stats. A mage does not have to be a frail, defenseless pushover once you get past its spells. A rogue does not have to be unable to hold its own in a stand-up fight. And so on.

However, by the same token, players get no free abilities for choosing a certain type of character to play. A mage who doesn't choose the ability list that allows it to deal massive harm to multiple foes cannot throw the gloriously large fireballs that are some common to that archetype. It uses its magic in other ways.

To help tone down potentially game-breaking power plays, I made use of two balancing factors. The first is the advancement system. Character advancement occurs at a rate based on the actual difficulty of the encounter. This is to say, you might be fighting a foe ten levels higher than you, but if you take it down in your first move without suffering a single hit, you don't get very far where advancement is concerned. The problem with power playing is not creating a character that can defeat powerful foes. If that were the case, the person running the game could just throw in stronger opponents, maintaining the challenge and solving the problem. However, in many role playing games, comparative level of power determines advancement. Using this style, stronger opponents only hasten the growth of character power, which compounds the problem.

My second tactic is simple: if all of the abilities are powerful, and all characters (main characters and opponents alike) have the same options for character building, no one can claim an undue advantage. I don't see a value in limiting the efficacy of character abilities. Most role playing games have something of an epic or heroic feel, so why not let the characters be epic and heroic? And if you prefer games where the characters are outmatched, it's easy enough to use opponents several levels higher than they are to handle things.

A role playing game designer's most important choice may be the abilities it allows characters in the game to possess. Do not fall into the trap of limiting characters to only a few possibilities so overburdened by limits that they cannot function. Separating stats from description, making the players work to earn their levels, and making sure that every ability has its uses are three excellent tactics to keep an RPG customizable without compromising its balance.

Copyright © 2006 Dustin Schwerman.

Dustin Schwerman has been playing RPGs for over a decade, using an analytical approach to critically evaluate the game systems (and so to create the most powerful characters he could get away with). He used the extensive experience gained doing so to create his own game, Quests of the Realm. QoTR focuses on unlimited character customization, relying on its author's understanding to detect and counter game-breaking power plays. Though balanced, QoTR still allows players to create highly effective characters and run them through heroic story lines. To contact Dustin, read more of his writings, or learn more about Quests of the Realm, visit his web site, Quellian-dyrae [http://www.quelliandyrae.com].

Tales From the Trench

As long as we're all back here together, let's catch up on some of what makes our campaigns so great; those moments that can never be forgotten as long as we game. Recent is what I'm looking for… not pining for the days of our campaigns years ago.

For me, it came a few weeks ago in my current campaign. The main villain, a young woman, was created by the PCs. They don't know this of course, nor that she's even a villain. Someone was trying to kill them, as minor NPC bad guys are wont to do, waaaay back at the beginning over a year and a half ago. A crate was dislodged on the docks, intended to crush the PCs while they talked to a minor (and very unimportant) NPC. I sucked at the Listen roll for the NPC to determine where exactly the PCs were and the wrong crate was pushed. It fell towards the NPC and his pregnant wife instead. The PCs failed some rolls to notice this, but the NPC did not (he was very protective of his beautiful and pregnant young wife) and he leapt to push her out of the way. The crate landed on him and killed him. The shove provoked a miscarriage in his wife several days later. She decided fate had turned against her and has since been on a mission to unleash a terribleness on the world that will end all life...period.

Fast forward to a couple sessions ago; the PCs are in another land dealing with an offshoot of her plan. She is there, unbeknownst to them. They foil the evil plan at great expense to themselves (one now has no right hand, another lost an eye, and the third will never be the same though she doesn't know why yet), and find this girl chained to a wall (her dealings with lower planes type things require this for everyone's protection...what she does isn't pretty, as all well done evil shouldn't be). They of course assume she is a captive and rescue her. They take her back with them to a city they operate out of. Most specifically to the library of an ancient order...that she has wanted to access all along to speed her plans along. They brought her to the very meeting where the next stages of their plans were laid out with the major good guy NPCs. When her warlock minions came to rescue her from their ship, the PCs of course thought it was a kidnapping and still have absolutely no idea at all that they've undone most of their success since the beginning of the campaign.

They're even putting their *very important* plan in the hands of others so they can rush off and rescue her again...not that that will matter now that the plan is well known by their enemies, but they won't be there to try and put it right again (nor to maybe realize how the enemies knew about it). Instead, they'll be walking right into the worst place they could possibly go at this point in the campaign in order to "rescue" her again. Along the way, they intend to recover and bring with them something she mentioned that she might need if she's to "help them against this evil" so that they have it right there with them when they "save" her.

I really love my job.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

2009 ENnie Award Nominees Announced

The nominees for the 2009 ENnie Awards were announced today; HELLAS: Worlds of Sun & Stone (my game) was nominated twice. Voting begins on July 24 and runs through August 1. Winners will be announced at the 9th Annual ENnie Awards at GenCon on Friday, August 14. Be sure to vote for your favorites!

3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars, Box Ninja CthulhuTech, Catalyst Game Labs Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, Wizards of the Coast Pathifinder Adventure Path #19: Howl of the Carrion King, Paizo Publishing Scion: Ragnarok, White Wolf CthulhuTech, Catalyst Game Labs Dark Heresy Core Rulebook, Fantasy Flight Games HELLAS: Worlds of Sun and Stone, Khepera Publishing Publishing / Aethereal Forge Mouse Guard, Kunoichi/Archaia Mutants & Masterminds: Wildcards 0One's Blueprints: The Great City: The Saltshacks DCC53: Sellswords of Punjar Modern Floorplans: Victorian Style Mansion, 12 to Midnight / Fabled Environments Pathfinder Chronicles Second Darkness Map Folio Star Wars: Scum and Villainy The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Magnum Opus Press Don't Lose Your Mind, Evil Hat Productions Hot War, Contested Ground Studio Hunter Horror Recognition Guide, White Wolf Kobold Quarterly, Open Design Anima: Beyond Fantasy, Fantasy Flight Games CthulhuTech, Catalyst Game Labs Dark Heresy Core Rulebook, Fantasy Flight Games HELLAS: Worlds of Sun and Stone, Khepera Publishing Publishing / Aethereal Forge Mouse Guard, Kunoichi/Archaia Dark Heresy Core Rulebook, Fantasy Flight Games Dungeons & Dragons 4th Ed. Players Handbook, Wizards of the Coast Hunter: The Vigil, White Wolf A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, Green Ronin Starblazer Adventures, Cubicle 7 Entertainment, Ltd Pathfinder Adventure Path #19: Howl of the Carrion King, Paizo Publishing P1: King of the Trollhaunts Warrens, Wizards of the Coast Lands of Darkness #1: The Barrow Grounds, Expeditious Retreat Press Purge the Unclean, Fantasy Flight Press The Rose Bride's Plight, White Wolf Dark Heresy Creature Anathema, Fantasy Flight Games Dungeons and Dragons 4th Ed. Monster Manual, Wizards of the Coast Freedom's Most Wanted, Green Ronin Night Horrors: Grim Fears, White Wolf Witch Hunter: Grand Tome of Adversaries, Paradigm Concepts The Dreadful Secrets of Candlewick Manor, Arc Dream Publishing Hot War, Contested Ground Studio Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting, Paizo Publishing Slipstream, Studio 2 Publishing Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies, Atomic Sock Monkey / Evil Hat CthulhuTech: Vade Mecum Hunter: The Vigil, White Wolf Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods, Fantasy Flight Games Scion: Ragnarok, White Wolf Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Wizards of the Coast D&D Insider, Wizards of the Coast Dwarven Sweatshoppe Dice Box Hunter Horror Recognition Guide, White Wolf Kobold Quarterly, Open Design Mutants & Masterminds Deluxe GM Screen, Green Ronin Neo Markers, Alea Tools E-Z Terrain: Cliffs and Mountains, Fat Dragon Games DU1 Halls of the Giant Kings Dungeon Tiles, Wizards of the Coast Game Mastery Flip-Mat: Waterfront Tavern, Paizo Publishing Star Wars: Clone Wars Starter Set Art of Exalted, White Wolf Battletech: The Corps, Catalyst Game Labs Hunter: Deadly Prey, White Wolf Planet Stories: Infernal Sorceress, Paizo Publishing Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons, Vol. 2, Devil's Due Publishing Blood of the Gorgon, Open Design Collection of Horrors: Razor Kids, White Wolf The Death Mother, One Bad Egg Hard Boiled Armies, One Bad Egg Tales of Zobek: An Anthology of Urban Adventures, Open Design Battlerun, Catalyst Game Labs Hunter The Vigil Quickstart: The Hunt, White Wolf A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplayng Quickstart, Green Ronin Swords and Wizardry, Mythmere Games Trial and Terror: SVU, The Imagination Sweatshop Critical Hits Dungeon-a-Day Kobold Quarterly Mad Brew Labs Obsidian Portal All Games Considered Brilliant Gameologists Order 66 Return to Northmoor The Voice of the Revolution CthulhuTech, Catalyst Game Labs Dark Heresy Core Rulebook, Fantasy Flight Games Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, Wizards of the Coast A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, Green Ronin Starblazer Adventures, Cubicle 7 Entertainment, Ltd Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods, Fantasy Flight Games Don't Lose Your Mind, Evil Hat Productions Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Players Handbook, Wizards of the Coast Hunter: The Vigil, White Wolf Mouse Guard, Kunoichi/Archaia Scion: Ragnarok, White Wolf A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, Green Ronin Starblazer Adventures, Cubicle 7 Entertainment, Ltd Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Wizards of the Coast Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies, Atomic Sock Monkey / Evil Hat

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A Penny For My Thoughts: An Interview with Paul Tevis

Two women and a man, all dressed in white jumpsuits, sit around a table with a bowl of pennies in its center. Each of them has a small stack of pennies and a printed form. In front of the older woman sits a scrap of paper with the words "a taffy stretching machine" written on it.

"... and my father looked down at me and said, 'If you don't want to ride the roller coaster, you don't have to. You can wait here in the candy shop while your brother and I go,'" says the older woman. "I was scared." As she speaks, the remembered terror creeps into her voice.

Her expression suddenly goes blank. She turns to the man. "What did I do or say then?" she asks, offering him the single penny in front of her.

The man considers for a moment, his brow furrowed. Staring at her, he replies, "You said, 'No, I want to come with you.'"

She turns to the younger woman. "Or was it..." she begins, offering the same penny.

"You stayed there in the candy shop, chewing your taffy," the other woman says.

She pauses before speaking again. "Yes, I remember now. I said, 'No, I want to come with you.'" She hands her penny to the man. "And I had a fantastic time. It was so thrilling, so wonderful. That's when I knew what I wanted to do with my life. And that is what I remember."

She smiles as she writes on her sheet of paper, "When I think of taffy stretching machines, I remember how I discovered what I wanted to do with my life. I'd never felt such a sense of purpose before." After she finishes, she takes a penny from the bowl.

"A penny for my thoughts," she says.

Hello Paul. For those who are not familiar with your name, can you tell us a bit about yourself, past and present?

I'm never sure where to start with these sorts of things, but I'll try. I live in Santa Barbara, California, with my wife and our three cats. We moved here almost nine years ago now, and I started a roleplaying group not long after. I had dabbled with RPGs when I was growing up, but all of my serious play experience has come since I moved here. We started playing D&D 3e and GURPS, but after a while I got excited some slightly less mainstream games, like Unknown Armies, Feng Shui, and Nobilis. Not long after that I found the Forge (indie-rpgs.com), picked up a copy of My Life with Master at GenCon, and jumped into the "indie games" pool with both feet. In 2005, I started a podcast called Have Games, Will Travel, which won the Gold ENnie for Best Podcast in 2007. And I'm just about to publish a storytelling game called A Penny For My Thoughts, which draws heavily on my experiences doing improv theatre for the last few years.

I think that about sums it up.

Paul, what made you go from playing RPGs (and other tabletop games) to designing one?

Poor judgment? :-) I'm not sure, exactly. But it was the Game Chef design competition in 2007 that got me started on this game, A Penny For My Thoughts.

So, no long-term secret longing to create your own world, or a wish to "Do it right, unlike all those existing RPGs"?

Not really. In fact, there's a section in Penny where I say as much. I'm not trying to teach people the "right way" to do things. I'm trying to understand my own preferences and share my experiences with others so that they can come to their own conclusions about how they like to do this sort of thing. I hope people can learn from my experience, but I'm not saying that they have to do it my way.

One thing about terminology: I don't call A Penny for My Thoughts an RPG. Yes, you take on the role of a character. But it doesn't have any of the features that make RPGs familiar. Its closest relative is probably The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, so I tend to call it a storytelling game. But you can call it whatever you want.

What's Penny about? What's the difference between an RPG and an STG to you?

Penny is about a group of people who have lost their memory and are undergoing an experimental therapy to try to recover. In the process, they have to help each other in order to succeed.

When I say that it's a story-telling game, I mean that unlike most RPGs, where you're controlling your character's actions in the present, in Penny you're describing your character's in the past. You're telling your character's story to the other players. Of course, it's not quite as simple as that.

Make me a sell: Why would I want to play Penny for My Thoughts? What's the experience of playing it like?

A Penny for My Thoughts is a collaborative storytelling activity. No one person has full control over the narrative. So at the beginning of the process, everyone writes down some ideas and puts them in hat. When it's your turn to tell a story, you draw one out. Then everyone asks you a question about that thing. You have to answer "Yes, and..." to the question. So if you drew "a dog" out of the hat, I might ask, "Was it your dog?" and you might answer, "Yes, and my father gave it to me for my ninth birthday." As a group you build the starting point of the story, and the rest of the process of telling the story follows a similar pattern. So if you enjoy collaborating with people to tell stories, or if you want to get more experience doing it, then you should take a look at Penny.

Is there any mechanism in place to keep stories coherent and/or directed, or is it completely up to the players?

There are a few things that help. First, there's something we call the Facts & Reassurances. This document lays out some details about the world that shouldn't be violated. The basic F&R says that you're playing in our world, in the modern day, and that you're all normal people. We've present two other options in the book, one based on the film The Bourne Identity and the other on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, but groups are free to create their own (or play without one). Second, the stories are structured by something we call the Questionnaire. Every story you tell is intended to answer the next question on it, so you have some idea of why you're telling it. Like the Facts & Reassurances document, we provide several options to shape your play. Third, there are some controls on what other people can throw into your story. That's where the titular pennies come in. Every time you get to a point in the story where you need to take input from other people, you offer a penny to two of the other players. Each of them makes a suggestion. You choose which of the two happens, and you give that person the penny. Finally, the number of pennies you have controls how long your story is.

As you can tell, this is something I've thought a lot about! My goal was to create a structure that gives people a lot of freedom to do what they want but also forces them to work together in order to get it.

Is PfMT a single-session game, or is it intended for longer campaigns?

It plays in a single session. It's designed for three to five players, and it should take about three hours. That said, different groups will play it more quickly or more slowly.

Why go the route of GM-less games?

"GM-less" is a confusing term and means different things to different people. I think it's equally valid to talk about Penny as having many, rotating GMs. But regardless of what you call it, it wasn't something I set out to do. It just grew naturally out of the type of storytelling I was interested in seeing.

What type of player would enjoy Penny most, would you say?

I'd say that those players who like stories that go in unexpected directions and that like to build on the contributions of others (and vice versa) will have the best time with it. It was influenced by my experiences with improv theatre, so people who like that sort of storytelling but in a more intimate environment than being on stage should have fun.

Would you say Penny makes a good con game? On the one hand it is intended for a single session, but on the other hand, it benefits from familiarity/intimacy with the other players.

It can be a little tricky, especially because of unspoken assumptions of what's appropriate to introduce during the session. There's a lot of text in the book about this, and in fact, the Facts & Reassurances mechanism was created to deal with this very issue. That said, I think it can be great thing to try at a convention because it helps to build familiarity and intimacy with the other players. One the things I mention in the book is that I hope people talk about the experience afterward to work through some of those missed cues or to thank people for picking up on what they wanted. That feedback process is important.

Let's talk for a bit about the process: How long have you been working on Penny and how much work did it turn out to be, in comparison with your early assessment?

Penny started as my entry in the Game Chef competition in the spring of 2007. It's based on a few ideas I had before that, but nothing was written down until then. I had hoped to be able to release it at GenCon in August 2007, but that turned out to be folly. There was a lot more work to be done than I released, mostly in playtesting and in writing supporting text. The design was completed early on, but turning that design into a text people could understand was harder. I'm a slow writer, so it took longer than it should have. I like to joke that A Penny For My Thoughts is the smallest design that ever took two and half years to write.

Ok, Paul, thank you for your time.

A Penny for My Thoughts is published by Indie Press Revolution and is available in both print and PDF formats.

More information about the game, including excerpts, can be found at www.orphicinstitute.com.

This interview’s Hebrew translation was also posted at www.hamishakia.co.il.

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The End of my Tabletop Era

Today, I boxed up all my RPGs. They're still in plain sight, they're still loved and memories cherished, but the boxing, for me, means the end of my involvement with tabletop gaming. This has literally been a long-time coming: when I first started Gamegrene back in 2000, my orbit was already slowly decaying, and I hoped that dedicating a site to my love would keep things going.

More and more, I devolved away from RPGs

It certainly did, but not in any long-term sustainable way: I still bought RPGs, I still read the books, I still created scenarios and adventures in my head, and I still dreamed of running an online game somehow, having long given up the idea of a local flesh group. I hoped that newly minted oldies like Paranoia XP and Pathfinder would keep things going. They did, for a time.

But, more and more, I devolved away from RPGs. The delivery mechanism, sustained physical interaction with a small group of people, just didn't fit with me anymore. After becoming a paid programmer and writer, I holed up in my home longer and longer, becoming further ensorcelled by the Internet, a veritable money tree which accomplished many of my goals quickly and easily. My physical social interactions are nearly zero, but my electronic interactions are constant.

I still wanted to play games, and I still steered away from "the typical", playing everything from "casual" (hidden objects, puzzle and adventure, Facebook games, etc.) to console-based (both physical releases and arcade titles), to massively multiplayers (Korean dupefests, free-to-play kiddies, big budget), to transmedia, armchair treasure hunts, alternate reality games, and independent releases. I hoped that virtual tabletops like OpenRPG, Fantasy Grounds, and Wizards' vaporware would reignite interest in faux tabletop gaming; they didn't. Then I had two children. Awesome for me (roleplaying at a toddler's level!) but not so much for "real" tabletop gaming: I had even less time than I had before.

Every month, I get a PREVIEWS catalog and every month I look with extra care at the Games section to see what's new and exciting. I still buy all the new Paranoia releases, out of a sense of duty and memory, though I rarely do more than scan through them. I still check to see what Wizards' and Paizo are doing and I wonder what the hell FFG is doing to the Warhammer FRP. Solely reading new releases, however, just doesn't seem to be enough anymore. I'm in a different place now.

The memories are worth far more than the decades of monetary value

So, with some sadness at "abandoning" a hobby that has been part of me for nearly 25 years, into the boxes they go. I'll never throw them away: the memories are worth far more than the decades of monetary value (blue books and original modules, Boot Hill and AD&D 1E, etc.), but I need to clear the shelf space for current interests.

This doesn't mean that Gamegrene is dead, though if you've visited in the past few months, you'd likely think it is already. I won't pull the plug on the site: like the physical books, the bonds and discussions that have been created here are too valuable to throw away. I just don't think that, if it continues, Gamegrene will be RPG-flavored, primarily because a) no one has submitted any new articles lately and b) I've no further expertise in the matter. I could change the subject matter to relate to things more in my line of work: internet-based gameplay (be it MMORPGS, transmedia, metapuzzles, etc.), but I suspect that might drive any remaining community anyway - it'd be a Starting Over, per se. Your thoughts are welcome.

Two years ago, we published an article from Joanna Winters entitled Giving In To, Then Defeating, Player's Expectations. I am her. This article was an attempt to tease a Hunter: The Vigil play-by-post which I had internally called Gamegrene: The Compact, which would have been created and written by myself, Aeon, and gamerchick. The basic idea was that the real-life community of Gamegrene was a training area for fictional hunters and, when Joanna soon disappeared (as she did, by never writing again), it'd be made active. One of the unpublished in-game posts, from the head of the fictional compact, might explain it better:

When I originally had the idea of using the Internet to bring hunters together and coordinate their separate missions, Joanna was one of the first people who believed in the importance of what I was trying to do. Her support and her advice got me through the hard times when my dream seemed close to failure, and her unwavering dedication helped draw other people to the cause. She also believed that when the time was right, Gamegrene's readers would be receptive to the difficult truth of what this world really is, and ready and willing to do something about it. It is my deepest hope that you will not prove her wrong now, when she needs us the most.

Joanna's disappearance has deeply affected us all. Fortunately, we can do something in response to this heinous act. The decision to target gamers as a key group in the expansion of this compact was no accident. Gaming produces creative and open-minded people, with full control over their problem-solving skills and their logical and strategic minds. These abilities, when applied, are stronger and more deadly than anything magical that a witch, a demon, or a vampire can dish out. I have to believe this, or what is our vigil for?

The fictional leader would then go on to believe that there was a puzzle hidden in Joanna's last post and, in fact, there was. At the end of her article, she concludes with:

Go ahead, send the players to a dungeon, but make it one floor and one room, abandoned and with no conflict. Or, make them slave through a 20-floor dungeon, traps and treasure at every turn, with the final room containing the somber and expected single pedestal with a calmly glowing scroll hovering just above it. When that scroll turns out to be just a grocery list, like the note below I found on a phone's message pad, and not the massively powerful spell or document one would expect, the question and wonderment of "why?!" becomes the new motivator for the adventure.

258 123258-147369456-258-7415963-147359 258-7415369 1471235987-14712345789-258-7415963-321478965 14712345-14789632-14789-14789-14789632-1475963-14712345789-14712687 159357-258-159357-14789-159357-123258-14863-321456987-258-147359-258-258-7415963

"Found on a phone's message pad" is the key to solving the puzzle: if you move your finger in the direction of the numbers on a phone's number pad, you'll spell out letters for each grouping: "I THINK IM BEING FOLLOWED XIXLXTVSIKIIN", a clue that Joanna had anticipated her fate. The whole article was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek representation of itself: it defeated reader's expectations by being something more than just an article.

Alas, a few weeks into planning the play-by-post, I decided that I didn't have the actual time to keep it running in a way I deemed awesome or with justice. I shuttled the attempt but, with the article already written and edited, I published the trailhead. I felt it was good enough to be "just" an article, and the comments seemed to agree.

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