Showing posts from January, 2015

The Light Side of Deadly Force

I have a confession to make: I liked the Klingons before it was cool. Long before they were remade into a proud misunderstood warrior race I rooted for them. They were great villains as they had no scruples, blinding ambition and plainly liked their work on a certain level. Then The Next Generation re-imagined them and they were positively grim all the time. It gets boring after a while. It's the same story everywhere. Ka D'Argo is n ray of sunshine on Farscape. The Narn on Babylon 5 are almost uniformly badasses and grim. It's become an industry-wide standard (Read this For a really fun look at TOS Klingons I suggest you get hold of The Final Reflection and How Much for Just the Planet? by the late great John M. Ford Most proud warrior races we meet in SF range from humorless and stiff necked to as much fun as a tax audit combined with root canal. Why? As I was putting together some background for a g

Science Fiction With a Chewy Center

I have enjoyed SF in my time from every end of the Moh's Scale. If I had to name a preference I have a slight shying away from super hard SF. But that because some authors in my opinion spend too much time on the intricacies of the science they've written about. I like explosions better. Having said that I doubt I have the talent and knowledge to write a halfway decent hard SF story and I respect these authors immensely even if they are occassionally not my cup of tea. But I do know a little science (in spite of the handicap of a liberal arts education). A story composed of pure handwavium is often dissatisfying to me. About the only exception to this is the Doctor Who series. Karen Gillian and Jenna Louise Coleman will excuse a lot of sins by themselves but the writing is awesome as well. I would shy away from running a Doctor Who roleplaying session though in spite of loving the series. The reason is when technology can do darn near anything it's hard to create a good

A Traveller Wish List:.. Equipment

My first go to game is Classic Traveller. While CT was mainly inspired by pulp sf it also certainly has trappings of space opera and more modern hard sf writers like Niven and Pournelle. The equipment lists for Traveller are a good solid inventory but there were a couple of things that I feel should be included because they are cool or just a great way of saying 'far future' to people. Since we don't expect a reissue of CT anytime soon here's my .02 credits. 1) Energy blade- no not light sabers (tm). Energy blades appeared some time before Star Wars. They were a staple of Mobile Suit Gundam. I don't need to be able to stop bullets with my blade. In a pinch a humble heat axe will do. Fusion plants already contain plasma to initiate a fusion reaction, making it into a (relatively) cooler blade should be doable before tech level G. 2) A 9mm handgun- check my earlier posts for these. Sometimes you want to have a gun with a little more punch than a body pistol but mo

Garden Is Danger Spelled Sideways

I was reading a post from Gerry Miller about how he was statting writing up the Solomani Rim and using UWPs from the classic supplement. One problem was a slew of Garden World that were also Barren (no people, no boats, no planes no motorcars.) To me this is no problem. The UWP is a starting point for a planet. There is a lot it doesn't cover and if that isn't by design it should have been. An otherwise lovely planet might have atmospheric taint. Taint can cover a lot, from chemical, biological or radiological contamination. A nuked planet might have plenty of prime real estate but moving in is not advised unless you want to glow in the dark. Similarly, super viruses and bacteria might taint the air, incurable, fatal, and contagious. A planet without a taint may still have an ecosystem that's hell on grav modules. Our world has plenty of examples of hard to kill off venomous pests (we keep them in a place called Australia.) True your bear and lion analogues will fall pr

Theory and Practice Response

So a few responses to my last post prompted me to clarify some comments I made. I never read in any posts that narrativist games were relatively new or that narrativist gms had to tell A STORY. Those were the impressions I was left with after reading a number of posts and I cannot recall the exact posts or what comments gave me that feeling. It was my opinion and not based on any bloggers' posts. I'm also not against narrativist games. I think narrativist is a term better used for gameplay. Any game can be run as narrativist. I think it's a cool approach and I'll play in it. What I was railing about was gms (and players) who try to shoehorn their players into a story that is not engaging others or inclusive. True narrativist gameplay comes about when everyone collaborates on a story as Chris Kubasik pointed out to me (thanks Chris and thanks Jeffro for reposting my blog and still circling me after a long dry spell.) Narrativist practices are as old as RPGs in my

Theory and Practice

There's are a lot of posts regarding narrativist games. I browsed them and came away with the feeling that narrativist games appeared out of nowhere in the last few years and were a movement away from simulationist or 'gamer' games. I exaggerate but you get the idea. It's bullshit frankly. I am an old school gamer but let me tell you I wasn't a roleplayer until I started to spin a story. You don't need rules or mechanics to give your game a narrativist spin. Stories grow out of the interaction of players and referee and their actions and outcomes. One of the best examples of this I ever saw was in an issue of The Dragon where the author generated a character while using results to create a compelling backstory with more hooks than Pinhead the Cenobite on a tear (The Strategy of Survival, Dragon #18). Setting out to tell a story (whether you are the referee or a player) is a mug's game. Maybe the story you want to tell doesn't interest anyone else (&#