Thursday, January 28, 2010

Of Fish and Fishing Poles

The recient ruminations on the nature of old school roleplaying made me think of somthing I read in a novel. World War Z byMax Brooks. Good book I recommend it. A pilot was talking about resupplying stranded enclaves of people trapped behind enemy lines. "They don't need fish.", someone said "They need fishing poles." That line stuck in my mind and resurfaced when I was reading posts about old school RPGs. That let to this idea. The current version of D&D gives you a fish. Original D&D gives you a fishing pole. Both games have you ending up with a fish dinner but how you get there is different. Old School seems more self-sufficient. Once you have it you don't need anything else. You make it up yourself. New school needs constant resupply. New books constantly shipped out so you don't go hungry. I don't think either way is right or wrong. Some people like to catch their dinner some don't.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Human Character Class as a Culture

Despite embracing OD&D (warts and all). I still want to make sense of some things inheirent in the game. Its a hold over from my earlier days when I quested for some type of realism. I was also one of those types who tried to rationalize the continuity errors in Star Trek. I don't mind race-as-class in the game but I did want to try to reason out the weapon/armour restrictions for Clerics and Magic-Users. Despite the nonsetting background of the early game they seem very set in a specific models of their character types. I was looking for a good reason to tell players as to why it there were no Gandalf types in my game (never has more aurguments been spawned by that sword swinging wizard). Way back at the start of this blog I postulated that Thulsa Doom was a cleric despite his sword wielding. In that case I figured it was because of his alignment. However the beginnings of an idea were formed then. If you can break them you can make them, (rules that is). So what would be plausible for players to accept if they asked? Well I started to think; how did charcters aquire their skills? And how would this fit into a background I was constructing? My initial idea was that there were schools for training. This is a common theme in fantasy stories. A school for magic or for a fighting style. This satisfied me at first. But when I looked at non-humans I realized that they were described as cultures. They were not only race-as-class but culture-as-class. This could work for humans too. Having the weight of an entire cultural background to backup the weapon/armour restictions makes alot of sense to me. History is full of cultures know for a predominant trait. As I am building a culture based in antiquity these cultures could be based around city-states. Human lands could be dominated by three city-states. Lets call them alpha, beta and gamma for now. Alpha is a warrior culture and is where Fighters are from. Beta is a theocracy and trains Clerics. And Gamma familiar with the ways of scorcery teaches Magic-Users. Gammans use Alphan mercenaries to protect themselves so they never bother to teach any fighting skills of their students. In fact they look down upon the soldiery profession. Beta despite teaching fighting arts never developed the fine metalworking skills to make large blades. So they distain the use of them. Three cultures for the human character classes. All of that sounds better than becuse the rulebook says so.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The End Game

Reciently I got to do something in a game that I have never done before. Finish playing a character. Horstmar, my Dwarven character was retired. Unlike so many other campaigns (with other groups) that were abandoned after a few sessions, this one lasted. After more than a year of playing weekly this one ended. The Gamemaster decided to wrap up the story to start another. And in true classic old school style they went out with style. It was an epic end. All the charcters had their stories wrap up with an end game similar to OD&D. Their choices put them in places were continuing to adventure didn't make sense. They became part of the world and its background story. In Horstmar's case he started as lowly warrior, rose to become an ambassador. And became the king of a lost dwarven colony rebuilding to its past glory. Interseting story right? And isn't creating interesting stories the best thing about roleplaying? Isn't the point, actually?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Another Anniversary

Today , the 15 th of January marks another anniversary. Twenty years ago today I moved to London (Ontario). It was an unusual thing for me to do. I was born in Toronto and was raised in Mississauga (nearby suburban city). Unlike where I came from I knew only a few people in town. Gaming became my method for making friends. I hung out at a gaming store (yeah I know). I met and got know my fellow gamers. Many of them became friends. Some 20yrs later I'm still friends with them. My hobby helped the transition to a new city. Almost ten years ago I might have moved back to Toronto. But I didn't, the friends I made helped anchor me here. Gaming has had quite the impact on my life. I don't know what I'd do with it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

One Year Ago

One year ago I started this blog. My first gaming blog. My very first blog was years ago and I let it lapse. I don't intend to do the same with this one. I don't know how many people view this blog. But for anyone who takes time out to read me, my thanks. I hope I can add some small insight into the larger gaming hobby. Writting is hard, and despite having a knack for expressing myself it doesn't come easy. Thoughts don't always translate onto the page so smoothly. I am in awe of anyone who can write daily. In particular I would worship (but i'm not religious) James Maliszewski of Grognardia. Not only does he post almost every day, but sometimes several posts a day. And long posts with many words. Not like the stunted blurbs I produce. I prefer to write poetry ranther than novels. Motivation to write about gaming sometimes is as scarce as motivation to actually play. I will keep posting and you (whomever you might be) keep reading.