Saturday, July 26, 2014

More thoughts about Mi Gran Sueno (and a post-gaming report)

In reverse order of the title, last night we played another session of J Evans' Mass Effect  RPG (a home-grown affair using the Cortex+ rules.  You should totally ask him about it!)  We were missing no less than four players from the group, meaning we had a modest three players.
Which reminded me about how good it is to only have three players.  Our group's large size has continually been a problem.  Trying to occupy the attention of even six, much less seven people, poses a challenge.  It's compounded by where we have currently been playing, because the table layout is pretty spread out.  So having three players meant that all three were pretty engaged; the smart phones stayed in pockets and everyone contributed.
Even before this, I had considered the possibility of trying to find some way of limiting the size of the gaming group without offending people.  One thing I considered was running a game more frequently than I normally do (say, weekly) and offering slots for people to sign up.  You could, for example, sign up for two slots a month with five slots per session.  That way a potential player could sign up around his schedule, but there would still be enough slots for everyone hopefully to get a game in once a month.  You could theoretically manage ten players that way.  The downside would be if a player's personal life ran up against a full schedule, in which case I would hope people could negotiate.  If the group was fluid enough you would also be able to play at least once with everyone in the group once a month.
That would mean, almost by necessity, that I would have to do a sandbox game, which lends itself to two of my favorite genres: fantasy and superheroes.  I could see a sort of "adventurer's club" format where a group continues to explore a large megadungeon or wilderness, or alternatively for supers a sort of "Arkham City" where people wander around resolving different quests.  Time to think...
And as always, opinions welcome.

Friday, July 18, 2014

In which I talk about D&D, skating, and cola

So here's a little trivia bit about me: I listen to a lot of Top 40 Pop music.  Why, you ask?  Because I skate a lot.  And if you go to roller rinks in America (especially on weekend afternoons) you will here two hours of the most common pop tunes out there.  I will say this, though, I don't find them offensive, just bland.  That's because they've been designed that way--to appeal to the broadest (young) audience.
The latest iteration of the D&D feels the same way.  It's not bad, it's not offensive, it's actually okay.  But it is built to be as inoffensive and homogenized and possessing the broadest general appeal.  But there's a problem, and it has to do with cola.
Not Coke, or Pepsi, just cola.  You go into any restaurant and you can have a cola.  Yes, they'll either be Coke or Pepsi and I get people have preferences, but you can get a cola anywhere.  In fact, the whole restaurant/beverage relationship is designed that way.  And if it was 1980 when there were not loads of other games out there, I think D&D would go gangbusters because you'd walk into a store and you would only have a few selections.  And one of them, the latest version of D&D, wouldn't be half bad.  You'd play it and you would probably have fun.
But here's the thing: it isn't 1980 and this isn't a restaurant.  In my hometown of Lawrence there's a store called Mass Street Soda.  Mass Street Soda touts over 1000 kinds of soda from around the globe.  You want bacon soda?  Celery soda?  Japanese soda whose flavor can best be described as "blue"?  You can have that.  And yes, you could buy a Coke or Pepsi but I can guarantee that no one does, because why would you want to when you could have Gingerbread House soda?
This is D&D's problem.  It's plain.  It's designed to be plain as to not offend and to try to reach the broadest audience.  But it is bringing nothing to the table at this point.  Why not run 13th Age?  Or Torchbearer?  Or a host of other games that have innovative ideas or neat rules or fascinating backgrounds?  If you had to play D&D, you could.  Just like you could drink a cola.  But the market is spoiled for options right now, and cola isn't going to cut it.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day After Independence Day Gaming




Mass Effect meets Leverage. Sci-if caper goodness!  The plot featured the team tracking down an illegal cyberware operation working out of a high-end hospital.  The team went in undercover but ended up running into an old villain who recognized us and tried to escape.  One hovercar chase later, and we had captured him.

Good session, although it was pretty chaotic at times.  It's a strange thing to say, but I have an observation that is in many ways my fault.  I usually host the gaming session in my basement with my big 4' by 8' gaming table, but this weekend I really didn't have the time to get everything cleaned up and ready, so we gamed at another player's house.  Space was cramped and there were a lot of players (including several young ones), and it was sometimes hard to hear the GM, and the whole layout contributed to the level of chaos.  I clearly need to get my house cleaned up before the next game!
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