landicine: (tinkering)
One of my favorite items from a past tabletop game was the Ring of the Darkhidden. The ring made my character invisible in total darkness. It sounds silly, especially given that lighting a match cancels out the ability, but since the character specialized in fighting skulking-see-in-the-dark monsters, it was actually really useful. I remember loaning it to [ profile] laraclara's dwarf character, and she almost destroyed a character ten levels above her. I want items in games to be like that: mechanically-relevant but also quirky and flavorful.

In Ultima Online, I enjoy using the crafting system to make odd sets of armor for my utility characters, and I spend way too much time coming up with names to engrave on my main fighter’s swords. Artifacts are my favorite card type in Magic the Gathering, and Quick Gadgeteer is my favorite advantage in GURPS. I have spent a lot of time thinking about gizmos, gadgets, magical relics, cyberware, and so on. It is probably no surprise that I wrote a lot of item cards for TBC.

I talk about larp items in TBC more... )
landicine: (p-chan)
I have taken some strange lessons away from RPG campaigns. An update of a previous post.

Visions: Diamonds aren’t a girl’s best friend; silver bullets are.

Innocence Proves Nothing: Alien artifacts remain a fun way to lose an arm.

Return to Melanoc: Politicians remain less trustworthy than liches.

Life in the Donut: If at first you don’t succeed, fry up a disco doughnut.

Heroes of Bhurloka: Sometimes you need to put metaphor aside and just use a statue as an improvised weapon.

Legacy of Arnor: When a weapon does more damage to you than your enemies, stop using it before it’s too late!

The March of War: Never ever ever hire a Halfling.

Hell Out of Dodge:
Jacob: A minster should trust his flock, but not trust their aim.
Jeb: Some people are too stubborn to die.
Jonah: There are few problems that cannot be solved by gambling with evil spirits. For those, find a shapeshifter who can become a lion.

Heroes of a New Age: Apparently, people object to being melded into a griffin chimera abomination.

Private Eyes: There are better things to steal than chairs.

Salvage: Always inquire about a criminal syndicate’s disposal methods before using them to dispose of highly infectious corpses.
landicine: (blue magic)
Random larp mechanic rules I found in a random text file on my computer. Since it was last year, I don't remember why I wrote them down. Some of them are variations of things I've heard in panels, but the rest I think I came up with.
Random "rules" )
landicine: (tinkering)
To Be Continued, the campaign larp I worked on, ended last weekend with three final days: a plot-light prom, final session, and wrap party. It was the first larp I ever GMed or wrote, and I think I underestimated how much work it was going to be. I wrote more than 190 thousand words for it, and two of the GMs, [ profile] darkoni42 and [ profile] staystrong62805, wrote more than I did.

More babbling on TBC... )
landicine: (tinkering)
I was woken up early this morning by the town of Waltham calling to tell us to stay in our homes until the bombing suspect is apprehended. The Fitchburg line is shut down until further notice. Apparently a lot happened during the night.

(Update: Apparently all service on the MBTA is suspended.)

I heard a campus cop from MIT died. That sucks. I have a great deal of loyalty to campus cops after Baltimore. They protect their campus and students.


May. 7th, 2012 12:03 am
landicine: (Default)

The protagonists of the last three things you read/watched/played are the members of your zombie apocalypse team. How screwed are you?

1. Miles Vorkosigan (Komarr)

Miles has a great deal of military experience and is a genius. If he could bring plasma arcs and needle grenades, I don't see any problem. Unarmed and alone, I still think he is a match for an army of zombies.

2. Phantom Reporter (The Twelve)

The Phantom Reporter  is a mundane superhero from World War II who slept for 60 years and recently gained fire powers. Zombies burn pretty well. That's useful, and considering how disappointingly this series ended, it would be no loss if he got eaten by zombies.

3. Peter Kingdom (Kingdom)

A kind-hearted British solicitor played by Stephen Fry is probably not the best line of defense in a zombie apocalypse. Still, every zombie hunting team needs someone to keep morale up.

I can think of better teams, but this could have been much much worse.

landicine: (Default)
I have taken some strange lessons away from RPG campaigns:

In the West: Shooting an ally in the leg to prevent her from doing something stupid is not a sound plan.

Welcome to Infinity: When providing the means to procure illegal hooch for an ally, make sure he signs a waiver.

Artifacts and Kalids: Changing your species to hook up is highly immoral and yet highly effective.

Forsaken Territory: Werewolves are not cuddly.

Castle Ravenloft: A poorly made D20 build can easily die three times in the same campaign.

Chrysolite: Do not waste time developing a biogenetic plague. Someone in the party will get cold feet about releasing it.

The Vacuum: It doesn't matter how much you get paid if your home city falls from the sky.

War of the Lance: It is best not to ask a warlock for clarification on where his powers come from.

Auspicious Beginnings: All the luck in the world won't save you from a nanite-infused super villain with no sense of humor.

Rangers of the Dusty Trail: If a member of your party sees things that aren't there, perhaps he doesn't get an equal vote in group decisions.

City of the Damned: Don’t get involved in family squabbles, especially when one of those involved is packing a dragon-fire shotgun.

The Sound of Drums: If it looks too good to be true, someone wants you dead.

The Golden Gatekeepers: When making wishes, perhaps it is best to take a moment and remember your cousin trapped in hell.

Contact: When purchasing bulk corpses, always inspect the merchandise.  

Tales of the Infinity Patrol: If the girl can be two-sides of a love triangle on her own, perhaps you shouldn't hand her a grenade.

Being Human: Creepy dolls make the most loyal friends.

Our Dear Departed: If the price of failure is to become a Lurker, don’t do it!
landicine: (blue magic)
Playing a naive and honest Minbari this campaign has reminded me that I play a lot of liars. They aren't all bad people, but lies and secrets are a major part of who they are. Certain genres seem to almost require this. World of Darkness requires monsters to pretend to be people to avoid mobs with torches and pitchforks and assault rifles. Infinite Worlds, Shadowrun, and most supers settings all have lies, cover stories, and secret identities built into their themes.
It has been a little problematic with my Minbari when I start musing about which lie I'm going to tell and realize my character wouldn't lie. A Pakmara did not eat my homework, and I have indeed seen your laptop full of encrypted secrets.

It has been fun though. What is the worst thing I can say right now? Oh yeah, the truth...
landicine: (Default)
From an old talk on game design, Raph Koster mentioned that Robert Cialdini identified six strong persuasive characteristics in humans:

1. We like people who give us gifts.
2. We hate changing our minds
3. We imitate those like us.
4. We are suckers for those we like
5. We trust apparent authority.
6. We overvalue rare things.

In The Gift of Fear, Gavin De Becker mentioned some broad generalities about human nature:

1. We seek connection with others.
2. We are saddened by loss and try to avoid it.
3. We dislike rejection.
4. We like recognition and attention.
5. We will do more to avoid pain than we will do seek pleasure.
6. We dislike ridicule and embarrassment.
7. We care what others think of us.
8. We seek a degree of control over our lives.

It is amazing how often in online games these generalizations apply to people's good or bad behavior. A random holiday gift of "pixel crack" is an easy way to buy player good-will. Players won't change their minds on a system easily; this will keep a certain part of the population away from Felucca indefinitely. The "rare" EM rewards sell for crazy prices despite having no mechanical purpose and just being dyed common items.
landicine: (Default)
That is a fun site that analyzes which author you write like:

I plugged in a bunch of random RPG writing and got a few different writers. The two that popped up the most were J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown. I always knew I was a hack, so no real suprises. Maybe some day I can aspire to be a good hack! I also got:

H.P. Lovecraft
Stephen King
Isaac Asimov
Kurt Vonnegut
Arthur Conan Doyle
Edgar Allan Poe
Chuck Palahniuk

So not only am I a hack, I'm an inconsistent hack!


Jan. 8th, 2010 01:19 pm
landicine: (Default)
Last night's Deadland's campaign ended in pretty much a TPK. The only member of the party who managed to run away had already been killed and was brought back as a Harrowed zombie earlier. Since TPKs happen so rarely in beholdsa's games (this being the second in ten campaigns), they can actually be interesting to think about. Wikipedia of course has a decent article on them:

Looking at last night's, our "plan" was solid enough, though we were fighting one of the big four evils of the setting. I've seen worst plans, though mechanically speaking any plan that requires suprise also requires the stealth skill on more than none of the characters. There was certainly some underestimating of the big villain, but I think the fight was pretty fair since he didn't have his cultist army with him.

The randomizing mechanics (dice and cards) hated us last night. I managed to cast as spell that backfired so badly that even after reducing the wound number with a Benny, I was still half dead. Our super regenerating elixer didn't heal our ally despite the GM spending a lucky point to let us reroll out of sympathy!

It actually felt good to have the campaign end like that since it meant things weren't too rigged in our advantage. What is the point of having a randomizer if some magical hand will just make things work out in the end?
landicine: (Default)
I actually find a trend in video game design and game discussions interesting. I read an article at Forbes today since Ultima Online is mentioned at #10 of "revolutionary games" since it was an early MMO and the first one that got attention leading to the more popular games that followed. The Sims was mentioned. It was mentioned 11th on the list after PaRappa the Rapper (first "music" game) and Wolfenstein (first 3D shooter) and UO ("first" MMO):

It was good see the game on the list. It often gets ignored despite showing high volume of sales on this list:

The list also shows it is the 4th largest game franchise, losing to Mario, Pokemon, and Tetris. It is a freakin' huge player in the game market, despite mismanagement from EA. Why is it so frequently ignored by designers? Why aren't there a 100-million clones trying to take some of that money? There are so many first person-shooters that fail each year. There so many MMOs out there that basically pop in and then die trying to claim a very limited market:

Yet, the Sims is ignored at best, mocked at worst. I had a friend who wanted to go into game design who sat there insulting it for a good five minutes while my Sims-fan wife glared at him. Why is this?

landicine: (Athenat UO)
I just heard that Shadowbane was being closed. This game had already had the problem of switching from a pay-to-play model to an advertisement model. I'm sort of glad. Sorry, but this game bothered me.

I think it is the tone of the game. I don't mind the idea of a PvP centric game, though a game with only PvP would be very dull for me after a while. However, it had this idea that PvP was the end-all and be-all of gameplay. When it first came out it used this advertisement:

“We don’t play games to bake bread, we play them to crush!”

This was an attack on the game Ultima Online which has a cooking skill that provides almost no mechanical benefit to the game. I play UO and have a chef character. I trained the skill to make named bags of flour for my evil company, a completely roleplay reason which served no tangible benefit. I have a lot of fun with my roleplay groups in UO, telling stories, getting into fights, being put on trial, etc. I enjoy a little bit of PvP from time to time, but it bothers me that the hardcore PvPers basically denigrate any other playstyle.

Then there was Shadowbane's rampant sexism. Certain fantasy races were male only (minotaurs and dwarves) in part because the dev team for the game wanted female avatars to be attractive. Their version of attractive was basically scantily clad succubus characters. While this is true for a lot of MMOs, Shadowbane pretty much took it a step further with this action.

I think the sexism and "grr...crush" tone are related. Shadowbane tried to be a very "masculine" game. I put "masculine" in quotes because it is a bullshit version. If the end all and be all of being male was war, death, violence, and only liking women when they are half naked, I'd fucking kill myself. I enjoy a good war game (Twilight Imperium!) and in-game combat (PvP in UO can be a lot of fun) and women in all states of dress. I'm attracted to women physically, but I don't think that has ever defined my friendships with them.

One of my best friends in Ultima Online is an woman who has a son older than I am and who refers to herself as "old lady." We've talked about real life stuff (job, family, moving,etc.) , game-related stuff, and really random stuff over the years. I'm not sure such a friendship could exist in a game which is entirely "I beat you up and take your stuff."

Shadowbane's gone. Good riddance!

landicine: (p-chan)
Ranma 1/2 was the silly anime of my youth, and Ryouga was my favorite character. Nothing really complex or deep here. Sometimes silly is good.
landicine: (Kosh)
I don't actually know if I'll ever use this one. I had my cryptic days in my youth though, so maybe I'll babble again.

Who are you?
What do you want?

Why are you here?
Where are you going?
landicine: (blue magic)
I tend to define a lot of things in my life with games. Magic the Gathering's color system mirrors people's approach to problems. For example:

White Magic: Work with a group and follow the rules, and things will work out.
Black Magic: Work toward power and stab them in the back if you need to.
Red Magic: Charge into situations and blow them up.
Green Magic: Use only methods that have worked in the past and make it BIG.
Blue Magic: Knowledge is power, and innovation is key.

I'm a blue mage. I'm not a terribly competent blue mage in games since I tend to get lost in the innovation and playing around.
landicine: (B5)
I was going through my B5 cards trying to find a picture that scanned well. This one scanned remarkably well and fits a certain role with my journal: It feels wrong. No matter your point of view about B5's storyline, Psi-Cop Sheridan is the combination of two polar opposites into something that no one wants. The picture is either the good guy wearing a black hat or a bad guy wearing a white hat. I figure I'll use it for when I talk about politics.

I originally wanted to scan in the card "Level the Playing Field" for my userpic, but neither the Sheridan nor Bester version scanned well. That card taught me a bit about playing to your strengths rather than just losing with your faults.
landicine: (Athenat UO)
Athenat is really an important character for me. I think she was my first character that wasn't just me with a funny name. I learned a lot playing her over the years. I also learned a lot playing Ultima Online.
landicine: (Default)
I'm slow. I don't fill out profiles that often. I have so many online accounts and such that it seems pointless to write them most of the time. I never got around to putting up some userpics until today. I guess I want to show them off now and explain why I picked them.

This clock was from a painting I did for a Planescape campaign I was part of. My GM allows us to do a weekly journal for our characters to get special benefits (experience, luck points, etc.). For one character, I wrote poems. For another I talked about crazy theories that were always wrong. For this one, I painted.

The great thing about painting is that even if you aren't very good, it feels right. Drawing or writing never feels that way for me. I'm not that good at drawing, so it is mostly seeing my mistakes. With writing, I know I'm a hack at best. It is hard to enjoy something with a critic demon on your shoulder. I don't get that as much with painting.

I also like gears and the idea of tinkering with things. My job is mostly tinkering with bacteria (plasmids, genes, proteins). I like the Mad Scientist roles in a lot of games.
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