Redux: RPG a Day 2017 – Day 11 thru 14

Originally posted on Google+ in August of 2017:


I’m behind! So I’m just gonna knock out several as best I can.

11. Which dead game would you like to see reborn?
Apotheosis Drive X. This one’s easy for me. I was so hyped up for this game, using Fate Core, that was all about Gundam-style robot-on-robot-but-actually-we’re-crying-about-friendship-and-war storytelling. It was Kickstarted, the PDF came in and it was pretty rad, but the print books never materialized and the stretch goal anthology of settings and bonus materials never came to be.

Maybe not an interesting answer, but it’s mine. I liked everything I saw about this game, and would have loved to have an actual lovely print copy with lots of cool setting options. It doesn’t help my sadness that I’ve never had a group that was willing/able to bring the game to the table. So, really, I’ve just got a lot of sads about this game that makes me want more of it.

12. Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?
I really love the interior art for both Parsec and Uncharted Worlds. I find both to really get me excited about the game: I want to be in those situations. I find that I really like b/w interior art, a lot of the time.

I dunno, on this question I just find myself trying to remember really striking interior art and having a hard time pulling up any in my mind: that probably means something, I’d say. Like, I love the interior design of Technoir, but I can’t recall any of it in particular… I adore the interior design of Chronica Feudalis and it definitely fits its content, but is it the most inspiring I can think of? Marvel Heroic has honest to god comic book art, and it is gorgeous and I love it, and it is definitely inspiring but is that answer cheating? I think, through all of this, one thing I can say for sure is that I love when sci-fi RPGs bother to illustrate things like, say, space-ships. If you’re going to offer a list of mechs or spaceships or cybernetics that are all important, whenever I find some aren’t illustrated I just get super frustrated. It’s a pet peeve!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I can name interior art that did nothing for me? The art of Headspace just doesn’t sing for me. The artist is a super cool dude, but the art just doesn’t work for me, and it doesn’t give me any inspiration when I flip through the book.

13. Describe a game experience that changed how you play?
In college I ran a campaign of Apocalypse World and I followed the simple advice, early on, to ask questions. That moment changed everything. I asked probing questions about characters’ psychologies, their inner worlds, I asked their opinions about other characters’ actions and choices, I asked for their internal monologues, for their hobbies, and so on. All of these innocuous-seeming questions built up these nuanced, human characters who were so much more willing to have tension between them — to have human disagreements, to have motivations that kept them from clumping together as a party might. It was awesome.

It’s something I’ve carried with me ever since. I do it in everything I play now. I turn to players and ask about their characters’ reactions, interpretations, feelings on things other party members do. If I see a player’s gears turning, I give them the spotlight to let us know what is clicking in their character’s head. Lots of players will embrace their character’s thoughts quietly, and to themselves — but I always try and give them the microphone so they can share those reactions. When I do this, everyone at the table can feel the earth moving under their feet as cracks form and mammoth heroic personalities lurch towards or away from one another at every major decision point. Like good television, because I do my best to get everyone invested in the character’s motivations and worldviews, we all ride the emotional tides and can share in the thrill as we know, in our hearts, that two or more characters have set themselves on a collision course with one another — but are refusing to talk about it.

14. What RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?
Oh man, I haven’t done any open-ended campaign play in ages. Last one was in college, running Scion and loving it. After that, I did AW which has its own natural lifespan and will inevitably end, same with Monsterhearts and Technoir and Monster of the Week and so on across the years. I ran Star Trek with Fate for two years, a whole ton of games, but those were self-contained arcs and seasons, definitely not open-ended.

I don’t think I have an answer for this one! I imagine my shelf at home, and very few games I own strike me as being never-ending!

If I had to pick one I was going to run, I would probably pick Burning Wheel, and its ability to support evolving stories by the way it tracks the development of beliefs. Since you can constantly track how characters change and grow, you can really effectively keep a campaign going… its focus naturally evolves, as the characters do, and that helps keep things from being “same-y” I imagine. I might also pick Stars Without Number, for being a beautifully put-together sandbox sci-fi D&D clone that is loaded to the brim with tools to make long-term, open-ended play as easy and light-weight for the GM as possible.

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