Thursday, 14 August 2014

#RPGaDAY - Day 14: Your guest requests

Today's topic for #RPGaDAY is 'best con purchase'. I have never significantly been to a con, nor less bought anything there, so I have not much to say.

Come back tomorrow for...

No, wait! I've got a better idea! I'll ask my friends to suggest some alternate topics:

The dynamic of this party is about to go badly, badly wrong
Stephen suggests: Worst mistake you ever made GMing

That's easy: Trying to adapt a game to the characters, and I've made that mistake plenty of times.

A game works one of two ways, in broad terms: Either the GM sets out a vision and the players create characters to participate in that game, or the group as a whole creates the game and characters together on a broad, generic template.

So, for type one, the GM might say: "Crime-fighting capers; create a character with low-level powers, an investigative skill and a motivation to fight crime in a team." If one of the players presents a character who is a moody loner with no defined moral code, the good GM says: "That's not going to work."

Too often, I've said: "Okay, we'll try to make it work."

My advice to my younger self is: "Don't; it never will."

Type two is a much more complicated process, and one I might talk about more another time. It's the approach built into systems like Fate Core and its post-FUDGE siblings and while I like it, it feels to me like a system that is highly reliant on a strong interplayer dynamic.

Hatty suggests: Diversity in your characters/NPCs

For the last few years I've mostly been playing and GMing live, so my characters have almost universally been white males with dark hair, beards and glasses. Most of them have been in better shape than me, but that's the main distinction. Only one of them has been gay, in main part because I am almost as reticent about portraying a gay character as I am about playing a black or Asian character; it's something that I'm not and it feels odd pretending to be that in a way that pretending to be a wizard or a millionaire doesn't.

I think the key thing is that, as a middle class, white, cis-gender, straight, industrial European man, I am only really comfortable playing groups more privileged than me, and that is pretty much millionaires and wizards.

My NPCs are more varied, but you'd hardly know it, because I can create NPCs of all races, creeds, colours and sexes, but when push comes to shove I'm only bringing the white men into the room, because there's a limit to the disbelief I feel able to ask my players to suspend, and because I am concerned about my own ability to portray anything more divergent from my self.

I've played women in table top, and I've been told that - by the standards of male gamers playing women at least - I do it well, but I'm not comfortable doing it live, because I'm concerned it will lapse into drag queen parody. I also played a black character once; again, without needing to portray the physical appearance and physicality, I am less reticent. 

Matt suggests: The definition of "superhero"

Not specifically game related, and I think if I were going to hit this one I would want to take a big swing, so perhaps this is one for another post at another time, possibly on The Iconomicon.

Check back tomorrow for more wildcards, as obviously 'best con game' is another non-starter for me, and browse the hashtag for some actual con purchase stuff.

Mentioning The Iconomicon reminds me that since I'm putting these RPGaDAY posts out more widely than my usual circles, I should push my other blogs a little:

The Iconomicon, where I talk about books.

My Life as a Doge, where I talk about movies and TV.

And of course The Bad Movie Marathon, where my friends and I talk about bad movies.

See you tomorrow.