Bugs Hunt

Hello again! This has been a big week for the RPGSC. We launched the website, we launched on Facebook, we’re squashing bugs, and we are moving forward with our first Organized Play event on February 23rd at Fun-4-All Comics and Games!!
If you want to reserve a seat for Strom Kings Thunder, go to our event page and reserve your spot. It’s free to play! We are looking to host multiple tables, including the Introductory adventure “A Great Upheaval”, the main published adventure, and one additional adventure based on what you, the players suggest (if we do not reach a consensus, we will probably run “Lost Mines of Phandelver”).
With that all out of the way, we are still refining our website and forums hunting bugs, and smashing them with our +2 Hammer of Web Forging! We encourage you to join the site and help us make any improvements. If you are having any trouble with the site, or if you spot bugs, please let us know ASAP.
If there are features you want the site to have, you find a bug, misspelling, or just have questions, we have a section of the forum just for that. Let us know and our dedicated Web Developers will get to work making things better.
Now, some of you may have noticed that there are a lot of links that just don’t work yet. Well, rest assured, we are working to fill out that content every day. Yesterday we released out “Code of Conduct” for the website, and started working on our Event Feedback Forms (we’ll talk more about how being a GM works in a future post).
We need your help to make the site, and the community, as vibrant as we can. Please, feel free to ask questions on Facebook, the forums, or send us an email at ask@rpgsc.org, and we will get back to you as quickly as we can. Our staff is here to help, and we want to help you get involved as much as possible. Without you, the Storytellers Collegium is just another D&D website.
This is going to be fun!

Xtronaut:: The Game of Solar System Exploration

Welcome back to the quest. I don’t sound like I have a ton of energy in this episode (was fighting the plague), but I got to sit down and talk with Dante Lauretta, the creator of a new board game, Xtronaut, that is really taking off (pun intended). The audio gets a little cattywampus in a couple of spots, but it was a good time none the less!

So, what is Xtronaut?

Capturing the real-world thrill and challenges of planetary exploration, XTRONAUT™: The Game of Solar System Exploration gives 2 – 4 players ages 7 and up the chance to develop space missions and explore the solar system. The game is based on real planetary missions and rocket science. It also contains elements of politics and strategy that are inspired by the real-life situations that space missions face.


How do you complete your space mission?

Each player selects a Mission Card from the deck. This card determines the player’s mission – the mission destination, type of spacecraft needed, the amount of Delta-V needed to achieve the mission, the potential to obtain gravity assists, and the points earned for completing the mission. Delta-V stands for change in velocity, and as applied to space missions and this game, it means the change in velocity necessary for a spacecraft to complete a selected mission.

Game play is straightforward. On their turn each player draws a playing card, plays up to three Action Cards, trades with other players, and places components on their game board. The Action Cards add real-life issues to the game that space missions often encounter – project cancellations, audits, government shutdowns, and other exciting twists and turns.

To complete a mission you must populate your game board with the right combination of cards for mission success. Each player needs to collect the Playing Cards that give them the right spacecraft, first and second stage rockets, and matching fairings. Gravity assist and solid rocket booster cards are available to provide additional Delta-V if needed to complete the assigned mission. Once the mission is complete, the player earns the points for the mission, which varies based on the size of the spacecraft and the target, and starts work on their next mission. The first player to score 10 points wins.xtronaut-game-toy-fair

Xtronaut Home Page:

Xtronaut on boardgamegeek.com:

Buy Xtronaut on Amazon.com!

Good Housekeeping Award Winning game that captures the real-world science, technology, and challenges of planetary exploration. XTRONAUT: The Game of Solar System Exploration is a board game that is easy to learn, and gives 2 – 4 players ages 7 and up the chance to develop space missions, build authentic rocket systems, and explore the solar system. Designed by Professor leading major NASA OSIRIS-REx space mission, the game is fun and engaging, but also exposes players to space science concepts related to planning and undertaking a real space mission — complete with full color education workbook that explains game scientific concepts.

Click HERE, or the image below to get Xtronaut on Amazon.com!



More about Dante Lauretta:

maxresdefaultDante Lauretta is a Professor of planetary science and cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. He is currently serving as the Principal investigator on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission.

He received a B.S. in physics and mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1993 and a Ph.D. in Earth and planetary sciences from Washington University in St. Louis in 1997. He was a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Geological Sciences at Arizona State University from 1997 through 1999. Dante was an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Arizona State University from 1999 through 2001. He was hired on to the faculty at the University of Arizona in 2001.


The post Xtronaut:: The Game of Solar System Exploration appeared first on The Quest.

Being the GM

This episode is brought to you in part by, audible.com. With more than 150,000 titles to choose from, there is something for everyone! You can listen to all your favorite audiobooks on your iPhone, Android, Kindle or other mp3 device, and now, Audible is going to give you a 30 days free trial AND you get a FREE audiobook download, just for listening to this show. just go to www.audibletrial.com/IRNerdivore and sign up today.

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And by the support of listeners like you!

Welcome to the Show

Hello and welcome to The Quest! I am your host, “Dr. RPG” Jeff Harvey, and you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @IRNerdivore, or visit us on the web at www.irnerdivore.com. Thank you for hitting the download button and listening to the show. If you just happened to stumble upon us, you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, just search of IRNerdivore, and if you like what you hear, we would sure appreciate it you’d give us a good rating and check out our other shows.

This week, we are gonna talk a little bit about GMing your game. I have some tips, tricks, and suggestions for both the lazy GM and the overpreper. With any luck, you will be able to learn a little something…but since it’s me talking…don’t count on it.

I don’t have anyone joining me this week as peoples schedules just didn’t align. So the next…however long, you get to just hear me blabbing into the microphone. With any luck I won’t bore you.

Before we get to deep into the conversation today though, I wanna give you a heads up about a bit of a format change. The Quest is the second podcast I created…the first was a weekly show about a play-by-post Wrestling RPG called the Virtual Championship Wrestling Federation. Well…the efed has since ended, and I only did 10 episodes of that show.

Well, then I came up with this show, and I learned a ton about podcasting in the fairly short time I have been doing this one. And of course, now we are doing a total of 3 regular shows…the Quest, IRNerdivore, and the all new DarkMatch Podcast for wrestling fans.

I have learned some of what works, and what doesn’t…and one of the segments that works good ok for some shows, but not this one, is the News. Doing the RPG news can be fun…but it is rarely anything worth listening too, and we often struggle to get anything worth reading…so…I am gonna go ahead and cut that from the shows.

We will still talk about important releases and big news, but nobody really wants to know about somebodies kickstarter. Maybe I’m wrong…if you guys like the news, and want us to keep it in…I’ll do that, but y’all are gonna need to let me know!

Hopefully, by cutting out the news, we can have a little more time to get a little deeper into our topics, get you a little more insight into the wonder that is role-playing!

Also…I have a couple of interviews coming up…so hopefully I can give you guys more time with our guests…help you to get to know them and what they come on the show to talk about!

Anyway…let’s get this show underway!

What is a GM

So…what exactly is a Gamemaster?

The gamemaster is the author of the novel, director of the movie, teller of the tale! He (or she) guides the story and controls the game session, describes the events taking place and decides on the outcomes of players’ decisions. The gamemaster also provides the setting through the cunning use of non-player characters (NPCs, random encounters, and through the  general state of the game world.

Basically…a GM is engine on which your game is built and runs.

GMs run a game based on a published game world, with the maps and history already in place; like World of Darkness of D&D, or they build their own world and let their players live out their own original stories.

A good gamemaster draws the players into the adventure, allowing them to enjoy it .Providing an opportunity for everyone to have a good time. To be a good GM you need to have a quick mind, sharp wits, and rich imagination.

You also need to be able to maintain game balance: hideously overpowered monsters or players are no fun.

Generally speaking, there are four major “hats” a GM needs to be able to wear:

Author: The GM plans out (in the loosest sense) the plot of the story of which the Player Characters will become protagonists; puts together the setting, populates the world with antagonists and other NPCs, and creates any necessary backgrounds, motivations, plans and resources the story needs.

Director: During the game, while each of the other players typically controls the actions of one of the Player Characters, the GM decides the actions of everything else everywhere…entire towns, herds of animals, weather…literally everything that the PC’s do not directly do, is the responsibility of the GM.

The GM may also choose to play an “NPC” that travels with the party, but this may occasionally be open to abuse since the Game Master having a “pet” NPC may compromise his neutrality. You also risk getting into a “Mary Sue” mindset…and that is no go. I do not recommend a GM-PC for anything more than very short periods, or if the story really calls for it.

Referee: In most Tabletop RPGs, the rules are there to help resolve conflicting situations (avoiding the classic “Bang! you’re dead!”/”No, you missed!” quandary). As the GM, you need to provide to know the rules of the game you are running, and make any necessary interpretation of those rules in fuzzier situations. A lot of GMs also add House Rules in order to cover recurring issues orjust to provide a different gaming experience.

I do this a lot on D&D type games…I have an entire set of house rules to make my D20 games more fun for me as a GM. Most of them are out of books like Unearthed Arcana, but with a few adjustments. But, either way, if makes the rules fit the type of story I like to tell and ads those little elements I find really fun.

Manager: The least officially prescribed portion of GMing, and thus the part that takes people the most by surprise. The GM is typically the one to organize the game in the first place, find players, schedule sessions, and figure out a place to play.

You also sometimes need act as a mediator, balancing the needs and desires of all group; and sometimes you may even feel like you have to divine the real desires of indecisive or self-deluded players.

All too often, especially among younger players just getting into gaming, you end up with a power trip player, or someone that just cannot make up their mind about what they want out of the game. It can be really tough, again, especially on younger GM’s just getting into it, to deal with “problem players”.

Every player needs different things and not all players are going to fit in every game. There is a lot of work that goes into just working a game to fit the group you have. A lot of time, I set out to run a new game with 4 super-heroes, and by the end, I have one hero and four sidekicks…don’t be afraid to focus on great players, and let the others find their place. Don’t ignore them…but sometimes you run a game that just doesn’t appeal to everyone, or maybe their character takes a different direction than you would have expected.

And that brings me to my next topic…but before I get to that, I need to pay a couple bills real quick so bear with me!

If you’re a geek, and I know you are if you’re listening to this show, then you need to check out Geek Fan Expo!

Geek Fan Expo is an all-inclusive omni-Geek-Fan Experience. Including programming from all walks of Geekdom, we’ve designed the experience around you. And together with you, we are building the next generation of hotel convention by bringing geeks of every type together to share a truly inclusive, social fan experience.

Our interactive program tracks focus on quality entertainment and high production value. GFX  features destination event like the 24 hour video gaming room provided by Dead State Pavilion, and the GenCon Games Library, one of the largest table-top gaming library’s in the world. We will have topical discussion panels and workshops featuring local makers, top shelf voice actors, and authors. And of course we have some of the best vendors and artist exhibitions, contests, the GFX bubble-gum Girls, Cosplayers, and oh so much more!

GFX  will be at the doubletree hotel in Dearborn Michigan September 5th 6th and 7th, 2014 and tickets are on sale now at www.geekfanexpo.com; use promo code IRNerdivore and get 20% the ticket price just for listening to our show!

Follow GFX on Facebook and twitter @geekfanexpo.

Tell all your friends, tell random folks on the street, climb tall buildings and shout it to the world…spread the word and let’s make GFX 2014  a huge success!

Ok…back to the show!

The “Prep” GM

There are really two kinds of GM’s when you boil it all down; there is the “Preper” and the “Winger” Both types have their ups and downs, and sometimes you may change what type you are depending on the story, players, or even your commitment to the story you are telling.

Now, I’m not saying one is better than the other, and I have been both kinds…but generally I am a “Winger”. Some people call it the “lazy GM method”, but I prefer to think of it as the “on the fly” style of storytelling.

But, let’s talk about the “Preper” GM a little before we get to deep into intricacies of “Wingers”.

As a preper, there are 4 major things you need to be able to handle. It can be a lot more work than a “Winger”, but you can also often tell a much more compelling and direct story.

So…step 1.  Have a plan.

This can be difficult at first but it is usually the most important step to take in making a game good. A lot of new GMs will try to come up with a story on the fly, and maybe some of them can do it well, but for most it just doesn’t work.

It quickly leads to inconsistencies and lose of direction. You story suffers, your players get listless, and you end up never finishing your story. Trust me on this one. I have been there many times.

Instead you should come up with a fairly basic plotline, something that your group can easily get behind, like having party investigate cave for ancient treasure. Something you can easily build on. Come up with few different scenarios and tie them together. Its a good idea to plan the forest not the trees; Meaning that you should plan the overall story but be less concerned with the individual events that may occur.

Don’t forget that, as a GM, it’s your job to run the ENTIRE world, so try not to get to detail oriented. Write something that makes scenes but don’t write yourself into a corner by having things so spelled out that your players can really muck it up.

And that brings us to step 2: Be prepared to change the plan.

There is an old saying: No plan survives first contact with the enemy. Player Characters are by their very nature unpredictable. No matter how well planned your scenario might be, I guarantee they will do something you hadn’t prepared for.

Sometimes they can screw your whole campaign up with one flip remark, poor decision, witty comeback or crazy die roll. That’s why it’s a good idea to prepare for that in advance.

How do you plan for the unexpected as a storyteller?

Well, for one thing, try to avoid linear plot structures. Rather than writing it so that your party goes to Mordor, defeats Thoth-Amon, and rides back to Waterdeep with the Triforce, you can try having floating objectives.

Floating objectives are possible quests that your party is merely aware of but under no direct compulsion to complete. By giving them several to choose from they can come and go from them as they please. This allows you, the Game Maste,r to not have to work at keeping the player characters from straying too much .It also gives the players a greater illusion of free will.

The more a player feels they are making the choice, the more they feel their character is real. If you railroad the story, players begin to just think of their characters as avatars in a video game…and they can get that feeling from…well…video games.

Using this, “Illusionary Sandbox” approach also has the added benefit of allowing the GM to drop one or more of these objectives on top of the players should the party go off in a tangent.

Step 3. Know your audience.

While in the end, you are telling your story, you need to remember that RPG’s are collaborative storytelling experience, and that means to a certain extent, it is your job to pander a little; to play to the crowd if you like.

Coming up with a complicated and intricate plot is all fine and dandy, but if your players don’t like it then it won’t be fun for you either. If you love intrigue and investigation and keep putting clue finding missions in your game, don’t be surprised if your hack and slash type players get bored.

Maybe you enjoy strategic combat and always put challenging fights in your game, but your players prefer in-depth character role-playing.

Different people get different things out of role-playing, and so you need to spend some time getting a sense of what your player’s want. Experimentation is always a good idea, but once you find something that doesn’t work, don’t keep using it. If you make your players happy you will have a good time as well.

There is a great resource in the World of Darkness books…I think Palladium also has something, and I know L5R and 7th Sea do…but it’s basically a questionnaire that you have your players fill out. It helps you get into the minds of your group and build the type of game they want around the game you want.

And lastly, Step 4. Stay in charge.

No matter how good a relationship you may have with your players, there will probably come a time when y’all disagree. More likely someone will have a problem with the way you handled an in game incident. It can be tough to decide who is right in these instances.

The short answer is always: you are. It’s ultimately your story, and you have final say over any in game dispute, and thus no matter what the rules say, you are the one who has to decide what goes down in your game. Remember that, more often than not you’re the only person that can see the forest through the trees, and are the only one that really knows is best for the overall story. Just remember not too abuse your privilege. Keep in mind that you need to be fair and respectful if you want to keep your players from leaving

Ok…I need to take another little break cause the lights are getting dim, and that means I need to pay them bills!

So, before we go any further, let’s take a quick minute talk about how you can help us out. If you like what you hear, and you want to support the show, you can go to IRNerdivore.com and click on our Amazon banner at the top of the page; it’ll take you to same old Amazon.com and lets you shop just like you normally would; the only difference is, you buy something, and Amazon gives a little back to us so that we can go all “Tom Bodet” and keep the lights on for you!

You get all the same great stuff, and you’re helping us out at the same time! Win-Win!

Now…I’m not saying you to need  buy anything right now. You can just click the banner and bookmark the page to use when you DO shop at Amazon.com…easy as that!

Alright…let’s get back to what we came here to do!

“Off the Cuff”

“Preper” GMs sometimes spend hours and hours crafting a story, and the effect is often a really awesome set of scenarios and story elements that your players will never see. Railroading them is an option, but more often than not, the GM just has to scrap the work they did and start over.

The hardest part about being a prep heavy GM is all of the amazing stories you will never get to tell. It really can be devastating to work ethic of event the best GM’s. I know that in LARPing, this is something that almost always leads to major burnout, and that it really doesn’t take very long.

Now…I am very heavy handed in my prep style stories, but I had to learn how to be that way and to tell storied that everyone enjoyed in that style, despite the lack of real freedom. For me though, the real joy of GMing comes from Winger style games.

It’s really hard on me to write super awesome, intricate stories that the players are gonna miss anyway. I’ve done the carefully crafted story thing…and sometimes I still find myself over writing, but frankly, I generally don’t bother to invest the time anymore, and I have WAY more fun GM.

Players don’t generally need all those deep, intricate plots either. You don’t need to try and impress your players with your storycrafting, you just need a little faith in ability to run a game “off the cuff”. And it really isn’t as hard as people make it out to be sometimes.

I get that coming to the table with nothing more than a handful of NPCs and some vague ideas and staring at 3 or 4 people that are expecting you to entertain them can make you feel a little like you are about to ride a barrel over Niagara Falls, it’s a  completely unjustified fear.

Sure, you may need a little more wit, a dash more cunning and a distinct acumen for BS that you otherwise wouldn’t need if you prepped a little more…but there are tips and trick you can use to master “off the cuff” gaming.

Step One: The Campaign Idea

Just like I talked about before you need to have a basic premise for your campaign. The temptation here is to include loads of history and backstory that will make players’ eyes glaze over. A lot of times the goal is to try to make the world, and the campaign, seem real by making it detailed so that players can really melt into your setting.

The problem is, nothing will make players feel more disconnected from their character, and thus the world, than the feeling that everything is completely alien, they have nothing to hook them into the world, nothing to relate too.

Save yourself some time and effort, rather than explain all the intricate details, steal them from media that the players are familiar with. Instead of explaining the elaborate politics of your nation of bored, decadent nobles, just say “Montainge is basically Alexander Dumas’ Three Musketeers era France” or “This character is more or less Hamlet”.

There’s nothing wrong with explaining the Hyborean nation of Stygia as “basically Egypt, except they worship an evil snake god, commit human sacrifice, and use super evil dark sorcery”. Sure, there’s more to it than that, but the players don’t need to know every little detail right now.  You just need to hook them. They’ll explore more on their own, and you can feed them the information they NEED to know as they need to know it.

These things are all tropes, dense nuggets of information you can convey by engaging in a common frame of reference. Go ahead and straight up give you players a list the TV shows, books, and/or movies they can use to build a frame of mind for you campaign/

You then establish the premise of your game the same way. “This game is going to be kinda like Firefly. You guys are be smugglers just trying to make a living, free from the long arm of Johnny Law.” Instantly your players know what kind of people they’ll be roleplaying.

Step Two: The Plot

You don’t really need one. Actually, you don’t even really want one. Once you have your premise, you’re basically done. If you know the game’s premise is “rebels fighting the Evil Empire”, then that’s all you should write. Don’t get swept up fleshing out the ways the players can thwart the Evil Empire. That’s their job.

It sounds super lazy right…I prefer to call it “Sandboxing”. In Games like MineCraft, you can have thousands of hours of fun just running around doing what you want right…this is the same thing. You are giving the players a black canvas and reacting to them as they try and fulfill their characters goals and motivations.

All you really need to do is figure out who the movers and shakers of your Evil Empire are: a sorcerer-king, his apprentice, the arrogant military commander. Give a little extra thought here. Give them personal goals. What do they want? What kind of things will they be doing in the setting to get what they want? Keep it simple, but make do enough that you can feel their desires. These are your storytellers, and the more real they are to you, the more real they are to your players.

I suggest writing them up like a PC, with a character sheet and a few bullet points to fill out their personalities in quick reference form. Maybe your Darth Vader character has a few motivations like:

  • Wants to destroy kill all the Jedi
  • Wants to recover the plans to the Empire’s secret weapon
  • Wants to finds his long lost son and convince him to join the Empire.

That’s enough for now. There could be subtext, like maybe his loyalty to the Evil Emperor isn’t as secure as it seems, or he isn’t yet aware his son is alive (and is one of the PCs)… but that can be figured out organically in play if you really want.

Muse on what kind of things they’ll do to accomplish those plans. Maybe, he would capture a Princess who is a secret member of the rebels and torture her to find out where the plans are. Maybe the Princess is an NPC whose goal is to hide the plans.

You build your basic plans around things like this. Just like I talked about earlier with the “preper” GM, you get a few quick scenarios in your mind, but now, rather than having your players go from one scenario to another, this way things are always moving and scenarios are always changing based on what the PC’s do or don’t do.

Let me warn you now though, never fall in love any of your NPC’s. Chances are they will die in a painfully anticlimactic way the first chance your PCs get. You can always make another one if you need to. As I used to say when GMing for the LARP: Crunch all you want, I’ll make more.

Remember that the PC’s are the focus of the story, not the NPC’s.

Step Three: Getting the PCs involved.

When it’s game time, you show up with your NPCs and their goals, from which you’ve come up with a few story hooks. The next thing to do is to screw by jabbing them with those hooks.

You need to know your players, and their characters. Take a look at their character sheets. See what kind of skills, talents, hindrances, and backstory the Players have come up with and use them all against them.

This is where your quick creativity needs to come into play…but it’s not as hard as you think.

Let’s say one of your PC’s has a background where he lives on a farm with his family? Maybe your bad guy sends some troops to find the plans. They question, torture, and kill the PC’s family. Oops!

You have a second PC with the disadvantage of “Enemy”. Maybe it’s some gangster that he owes money to. So you have one the gangster’s goons put some pressure on, then you dangle a money making opportunity in front of him. He can choose to take the bait or not…players choice

The point is, the players already did a lot of the work for you. It’s one of the reasons I LOVE games that have disadvantages and flaws, and things like that. It lets the players more or less tell you exactly what they want to be important to their characters story. All you have to do is have your NPCs’ twist, abuse and otherwise stomp all over those things. You get to leave big fat bloody footprints all over your players characters hopes, dreams, loved ones, and possessions. Then sit back and enjoy the show!

I once read in a book by John Wick…at least I think it was John Wick, the guiding light of all my GMing…ever. Players what their characters to be beaten, kicked, stomped on, slashed, torn, burned, battered, bruised and dragged to within an inch of death, and they will love every second of it, so long as they win in the end.

But…what if the players don’t bite at any of your plot hooks? That’s ok. They don’t have to…but just because the PC’s don’t want to do anything, doesn’t mean your NPC’s need to sit around with their thumbs in their bums. Let the consequences of inaction catch up to them. If the PC’s are in sitting around a fire pit in town and hear tell of an wizard nearby building an army of mindless automatons, and they decide not to do anything about it, then they don’t get to bitch when they have to fight their way out of the city through hordes of baddies, or when all their stuff is destroyed when the wizard orders the town to be put to the torch.

Nothing motivates players to get involved like taking their stuff.

All the while, as you are planning your consequences, you can keep presenting the PCs with new hooks. As story ideas come to you, you can give players the choice of what elements they want to follow. Let them be proactive and come up with their own story hooks, if they’re exceptionally creative players.

The key is to keep your world in a constant state of motion. Eventually your players will learn that while they can impact the world, the world is not sitting around waiting for them to interact with it. It’s not an MMO where the contact stands there with a yellow exclamation point over his head until someone clicks on him. It’s a living breathing world with powerful people doing powerful things that might well destroy the things that are important to player characters.

Of course…this does mean that the players actually have to write real characters and not just a conglomeration of faded penciled stats on a piece of Cheetos stained paper. Once again, the character questionnaires are a great big help here. Take an entire gaming session to sit with your players and talk about their characters. Don’t just hand them the questionnaire to fill out, ask them the questions out loud and open a dialogue with the player and get them really thinking about the character they are gonna play.

It’s also a great way to kill a few days while you come up with your first wave of hooks.

And don’t be afraid to steal ideas from everywhere. Adventure modules might be seem too linear given that it really is a lot of work to read the whole thing and know it, and get things rolling, especially when you know the players are going to go off the rails anyway, sometimes it may be just what you need if the PCs decide to sneak into the dungeon of the Evil Overlord.

Step Four: Keeping the ball rolling

The great thing about this whole process is that you never had to write an adventure. You didn’t need to prep a scenario. You don’t need to start up the train engine and get everyone aboard the railroad. You just kick the crap out of the things the PCs care about with your NPCs then let them figure out what to do about it.

More than that, once the PC’s get rolling, all you need to do is react to them!

But…it’s not all cupcakes and peach schnapps at the “prick” GM celebratory party.

What do you do when the PC can’t decide what course of action to take, or disagree on how to proceed?

Easy: Do almost anything! Put the pressure on. It doesn’t matter what really, just do something that stirs the pot. It doesn’t even need to make sense: I guarantee the players will make sense out of it. Just do something to push the players into making a decision, taking an action, anything. Get them moving and the story will follow.

This isn’t the same thing as what the “preper” GM does. The “preper” has a hook or scenario ready to go, ready to drop on the players at a moment’s notice to get them back on track. In the “Winger” model of GMing you’re just pushing them into deciding to do SOMETHING. It doesn’t matter what they do so long as they do something.

If they choose to do nothing, there should be consequences of inaction. You are basically punishing the characters for their impotence. Negative reinforcement really does work. Maybe the Minos Tirth has the forces to drive the Orc horde…maybe not. The PCs can change the tide of the battle either way by the choices they make. If they decide they want to abandon the city to its doom… let them. If they want to go try to negotiate with the Sauron or even join him, let them.

The biggest difference between a “Winger” GM and a “Preper” GM is that, as a “Winger”, it’s not really your story…it’s the PC’s story. You just give the players a sandbox to play in by creating a world and NPCs that demand stories happen. What those stories are about, and how they end, is out of your hands.

You are a reactionary element, the matrix fighting back against Neo.

Step Five: Ending the Campaign

So…obviously this can result in never ending games that fade into obscurity as people’s lives change. You run the risk of unresolved endings and a paralyzing lack of closure. There will come a point when you will start to lose sight of the world, and regardless of size and scope of the sandbox, sooner or later it gets dark and the kiddies get tired.

That’s when you need to put the campaign to bed.

This is a tricky thing to do though. Without a substantive plot driving the story, it’s hard to know exactly how the story is supposed to end.

There are always thing you can do escalate the conflict towards resolution, so long as the players still have goals. The secret to GMing this sort of style is that you kind of have to start at the end. You kinda need to know what you want the end of the game to be, and direct your NPC’s towards that end. The PC’s should follow…and with the right pressure applied at the right times, you can get them to where you want them in the end.

The final showdown should be a do-or-die chance for the characters to attain their most difficult and long term goal, or to stop the NPC’s from obtaining theirs. It needs to be that epic, once in a lifetime moment where the stars align perfectly for them. If they need to recapture their lost throne, give them an army. If they want to find a mythic lost treasure, let them be contacted by a scholar with an ancient map. You should be guiding them through a story that allows them to finally reach out and try to seize their fondest dream.

And then…let the dice fall where they may.

The Safety Net

So…where is the safety net in all of this? Why don’t you need a bunch of elaborate notes, intricate plots, and fantastic story ideas?

Because you have the players…Seriously, this is the very best, most overlooked resource a GM can ever have. Generally you have at least 3 or 4 other creative imaginations sitting around the table with you, and they are brimming with ideas. Use them.

Trust your players to come up with their own plans, plots and resources. Trust them to plug the holes in the plot (of which there will be many). Get them talking around the table about what they think is going on. If they have a better idea of a way to do something than you do…use it.

My single greatest talent as a GM is being able to see a story that someone else created, and twisting it just enough that they don’t really know what’s coming next. If you get stuck, as the players what they think, just to get the ball rolling again. As the GM you want the players to trust you, but that trust should go both ways.

There are a few ways to build trust with your players

Say “Yes”.

There is a saying in gaming, “say yes or roll “. It’s really good advice. Remember that you job as a “Winger GM” is to keep the story moving, so if something the players say sounds good, just say Yes. Yes moves the game forward. When a player asks a question, it’s because they have something in mind. If they ask if the bridge made of wood, chances are have a plan where the bridge being wood is important. Saying “yes” lets the player keep that momentum and do the work of keeping the game moving.

Rolling the dice is what you do when both “yes” and “no” could move the game forward, so the answer is arbitrary: either one is good for the story. At that point, let the player roll for it. This puts the power of the story back in their hands. If a decision is going to be arbitrary, it might as well be arbitrary via the game mechanics. Let the PC make a skill or attribute roll with a success being a “yes” and a failure being a “no”. Let the dice fall where they may, and make the players deal with the consequences of their roll.

Another option, and one I really prefer, is to have a “drama die” or “story point” system where the PC’s have the option to spend flip something, or give-up or spend something that just allows them to change the story in their favor in some small way. It feels less arbitrary and gives the players the sense that you actually want them to take those creative steps.

Players can be NPCs too

As the GM, most of your time is spent playing NPCs, either roleplaying or rolling dice. Give a player that isn’t in a scene a chance to play the NPC for you. It gets someone that otherwise wouldn’t be doing anything in a scene a chance to be involved, and if gives you a chance to get more story without having to think it up. You never know what the other person is going to say.

You can have them roll for their minions too! While you’re at it, let them control those minion NPCs in combat, too. You can always overrule them if you’re afraid they’ll send them to the meat grinder, but you would be surprised at how sadistic a lot of players can get when turned loose on their normal allies.

Putting it all together

In the end, it all comes down to faith. You need to have faith in your own creativity, and in your players desire to be a part of that creativity. You may have an adversarial role to play; you and your players really share a common goal, to have fun.

There will be times when players whine and complain, and you may think that they want to just walk over everything for the easy win…they really don’t. Like I said before…they want to be beaten, kicked, stomped on, slashed, torn, burned, battered, bruised and dragged to within an inch of death, and they will love every second of it, so long as they win in the end. They may not even consciously know that they want to be punished, but players are masochistic, they want to be challenged.

If you take nothing else away from this podcast…take this: beaten, kicked, stomped on, slashed, torn, burned, battered, bruised and dragged to within an inch of death, make a great big show of trying to break them, but know they have immeasurable faith in the end they WILL win.

It’s all about collaborative storytelling. You will get as much, if not more; out of a well-run game than your players ever will. Help the players help you tell a story they want to play. Secretly they want to be almost broken, and secretly you want them to win.

Neither of you will ever let the other see behind the curtain…but you both know the unspoken rule of the dice…RPG’s are a partnership. They know that they must be made to suffer, and they know you will allow them an opportunity to win. Maybe they’ll win…maybe they won’t but so long as feel that they told a good story doing either, they will leave with a smile on their faces and you will know you did your job right.

It’s a hell of a feeling to be a GM when a good story ends…honestly, I would much rather be a GM than a player anyday.

Alight, well…we can start wrapping this thing up!

We want to bring you the best possible show every week, and so we need to hear from you. Give us your thought about any of the things we talked about today, any show ideas you would like to hear us talk about, or rants about what we got wrong, or ways to make the show better.

You can leave us a voicemail online by going to www.irnerdivore.com and clicking on the icon on the right side of your screen, record you message, and we’ll listen to it; and who knows, we  might even share it with the rest of our listeners right here on the show. You can also email your questions, comment and concerns to podcast [at] IRNerdivore [dot] com, and I will personally read every single email. I may not respond to all of them…but if we get some good ones, we will talk about them here on the show.

Don’t forget to tell two of your friends about the show, and have them tell two friends and their two friends…and so on and so forth on down the road. Help us get the word out about this show!

And on that note, that should about do it for us here at the wandering-pod-studio. On behalf of myself, my guests, and everyone here at The Quest…”so long and thanks for all the fish”!

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S2E1: The Quest – Gaming Culture

Hello and welcome to Season 2 of The Quest! New music, new way of doing things, same old non-sense!

Lets get right to it!



Apparently a new documentary is on its way that explores the origin of the game, and the story of its creators, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. The film is called The Great Kingdom, and there is currently no release date, but you can check out the trailer and info updates on their Facebook page.

Star Wars RPG

Fantasy Flight Games has announced they are preparing to release the Age of Rebellion Beginner Box. The set is available for order on the Fantasy Flight website and it is expected to ship later this year.

Fantasy Flights AoE Beginer Box

New RPG on Kickstarter

There is a new tabletop project on Kickstarter called DeadQuest that is set in the American Southwest in the wake of a Zombie Apocolypse.

<iframe width=”640″ height=”480″ src=”https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1452396741/deadquest-a-zombie-tabletop-game/widget/video.html” frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”> </iframe>

Kickstater link

Eve Battle

Space MMO EVE Online has been providing stories of corporate espionage and massive space battles for years. A battle began yesterday that’s the biggest one in the game’s 10-year history. The main battle itself involved over 2,200 players in a single star system. The groups on each side of the fight tried to restrict the numbers somewhat in order to maintain server stability, so the battle ended up sprawling across multiple other systems as well.

Now, EVE allows players to buy a month of subscription time as an in-game item, which players can then use or trade. This allows a direct conversion from in-game currency to real money, and provides a benchmark for estimating the real-world value of in-game losses. Over 70 of the game’s biggest and most expensive ships, the Titans, were destroyed. Individual Titans can be worth upwards of 200 billion ISK, which is worth around $5,000. Losses for the Titans alone for this massive battle are estimated at $200,000 – $300,000. Hundreds upon hundreds of other ships were destroyed as well.

How did the battle start? Somebody didn’t pay rent and lost control of their system.

Original story


Gaming culture comes with a little more than its fair share of stigmas. There are a lot of stereotypes, some justly deserved, some not.

We discuss the “basement dwelling”, and actual play podcasts…and how we all suffer a little from the stereotypes.

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S1E9: The Quest – Building Your Campaign

The Quest for News

From RPGNEWS.com

Last Man Standing (1 of 16 in UNFASHIONED CREATURES)

Hey, you got Zombies in my Frankenstein! In the midst of an undead apocalypse, one scientist tries to sustain the human race by cloning himself (again.) Unfortunately, things don’t work out exactly as planned.

But then, do they ever?

In Last Man Standing, writer Monica Valentinelli and artist Josie Pi Grant do a modern twist on the first, great literary zombie. The digital download includes a BONUS page from “Monsters and the Monsters Who Make Them,” a mini-series written by James McGee and illustrated by Alex Cormack.

UNFASHIONED CREATURES, A Frankenstein Anthology, is a collection of original comic art and stories inspired by Mary Shelley’s classic horror novel “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.” Edited by Enrica Jang.


Mage Company has launched their Kickstarter campaign for The Amityville Project, a miniatures game where you’re trying to play on the fears of the other players, trying to become the dominant personality inside an asylum patient.

Phobos is a Horror Strategy Miniature game for 2-4 players. Each player takes on the role of one of these personalities which were created in the detective’s mind. Your goal is to eliminate the personalities of your opponent(s). Once accomplished then your personality prevails allowing you to control the detective.

Each of you chooses a Mentality board, 8 Ghost Miniatures, 12 Mentality Tokens, a D12 Die and 3 Action cards. Players then each get 3 Phobos cards (from 12 different possibilities) and keep these face down.


Fantasy Flight Games has released their Wave 3 ships for their Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game. Four new starship expansions have now arrived to forever redefine the dramatic space battles of X-Wing™!

The Lambda-class Shuttle, HWK-290, B-Wing, and TIE Bomber Expansion Packs each feature a detailed model, faithfully rendered at 1/270 scale, as well as a maneuver dial, and all the ship cards, upgrades, and tokens you need to make these starships a dynamic part of your X-Wing battles. Head to your local retailer today to pick up your copies.

Building Your Campaign.

A great place to start thinking about a campaign is your players. A good place to start to learn how to be a great GM, John Wick’s book Play Dirty!

Another great resource for helping you set up a campaign is a system created for the 7th sea RPG, called “The Other Hundred Points”. The idea was you give the players a list of options regarding your campaign and let them rank each option on how much they would enjoy each aspect and then you build your game around those suggestions.

Here is a link to the AEG 7th Sea GM Sheet for campaign building:

Also, here is an e-bay link for the AD&D Birthright Campaign.

Final Thoughts

Use your players as a resource to build a campaign you can have fun with, and if you can’t do that, have fun with the campaign you get!

In Closing

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook or follow us on twitter! You can also find us on iTunes. Be sure to leave comments on iTunes and share us with your friends.
You can contact The Quest via email at thequest [at] dancinggriaffe [dot] net!

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S1E8: The Quest – Death and Dying

This episode DOES contain SPOILERS!!!!

This episode was recirded on Friday September 6th, 2013!

We had a lot more planned for this eppisode, but my Joss Whedon rant took up a lot of time. We will cover this topic again in season 2!

The Quest for News


Lucas has been working behind the scenes on his proposed Cultural Arts Museum — not just a home for all the art he’s collected over the last four decades, but a place to tell the story of visual storytelling.

The Lucas Cultural Arts Museum is one of three finalists competing for a coveted spot in the San Francisco Presidio, right by the waterfront, with a commanding view of the Golden Gate Bridge. The three have been whittled down from an initial 16 proposals.

Lucas insiders say that if the Presidio doesn’t choose his proposal, he won’t look elsewhere in the Bay Area — he’ll build it in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emmanuel awaits with open arms. “It’ll be a nice wedding present for Mellody,” the former Lucasfilm chief has said.

Though San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has come out in favor of the Lucas proposal, the Trust’s decision is no slam dunk. Lucas faces some stiff competition in the form of the Presidio Exchange — an “open source” and partly open air museum that would host many kinds of free events and act as a cultural center for the Presidio. The third proposal is a Sustainability Institute; read about that here [PDF link].

Check out the videos on mashable, for more.



Robotech® RPG Tactics™ – Coming Fall 2013

If you’re a Robotech® fan, this is the game you’ve wanted for decades, with beautifully sculpted, in scale, game pieces and the fast action of Robotech®.

Robotech® RPG Tactics™ is a fast-paced, tabletop combat game that captures the action and adventure of the Robotech® anime. Two or more players can engage in small squad skirmishes or scale up to massive battles. Relive the clashes of the First Robotech War, engage in stand-alone tactical games or use the dynamic game pieces to enhance your Robotech® RPG experience. Or simply collect your favorite mecha from an expanding range of top notch game pieces.

Mecha vs Mecha. Take command of the fighting forces of the United Earth Defense Force (UEDF) valiantly defending Earth from alien annihilation. Or lead the massive clone armies of the Zentraedi Armada to recover an alien artifact of immense power and enslave humankind.

Go to Palladium.com for a detailed list for the boxed set.


Game Update 2.3.2 Patch Notes



  • New Vehicle! The Desler Nomad is a new rare drop from the final boss of all level 55 Hard Mode Flashpoints.
  • Vendor Update! Emergency Medical Table and Mood: Outraged have been added to the Bounty Supply Company Vendor. Each item is bind on pickup and available for 1 credit to all players, regardless of Bounty Supply Company Reputation rank.
  • New Feature! Players can now purchase Cartel Coins in-game through the “Add Coins” interface within the Cartel Market:
    • This feature requires that players opt-in before it can be accessed. For additional details, please refer to this News Article.
    • Subscribers receive a 50% discount on the first purchase made using the in-game feature. Please note: this offer does not apply to Cartel Coin purchases made using the website.

Talking about Death and Dying

A lot of times, players and GM’s are afriad of killing a character in a RPG. Don’t be…it can be a great story telling element (and besides, sometimes players need to be reminded that winning is not a foregone conclusion).

Many times death of a character can mean some of the most motivating factors for other characters. George R.R Martin kills lots of characters in the Song of Ice and Fire. som of these deaths are almost meaningless, but they all seem to weave together to tell a compelling story.


Star Wars has many meaingful deaths as well. Ben Kenobi dies and transends reality to help Luke and to give Luke a solidifying motivation to join the Rebellion and fight the evil. Vader dies and brings closer to Luke and Anikin’s stories.

Firefly was a sunning show, and the fear of, and presence of death throught the 14 original episodes was very real, even though none of the main chracters died. Serenity on the other hand put death right in the faces fo the characters and made you question everything (including Joss’s commitment to quality storytelling).

Final Thoughts

Death is an improtant part of life. You should not rush headlong into it, but neither should you fear it. Character’s should fear death, but the players and GM’s should be ready and willing to tell that part of a characters story.


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S1E7: The Quest -Conflict Changes Characters

The Quest for News

From: EscapistMagazine.com

Minecraft has been a work in progress for its entire existence.  In the current version, the many different terrain biomes are often placed awkwardly next to each other, with deserts randomly juxtaposed against arctic tundra. Meanwhile, massive oceans interrupt the typical brick-breaking gameplay and force players to either avoid them or slowly sail through. In a blog update, lead developer Jens Bergensten  mentioned three specific issues that he intends to address: oceans being too large, uneven biome placement, and lack of variation. To fix that, Mojang’s overhauling the code that generates the maps. Future Minecraft worlds should have far less oceans, logical biome placement, and alternate configurations of those biomes for variety.  Along with the new terrain maps, players can also expect new biomes, new rare and uncommon biome variations, and new flowers and trees to look at/harvest along the way.


From: Geek.com

Few game franchises have been as consistently loved over the years as DOOM. Even with years in between installments, fans still can’t wait to get their paws on a new DOOM game. in typical fashion, DOOM 4 has been in development for a long, long time, but you can tide yourself over with these nifty pewter miniatures of all your favorite DOOM monsters from Bethesda. The first run is already gone, but you can sign up for email notifications. Even at $200 these miniatures are hot.

There are 15 miniatures including all the classics — the cyberdemon, Arch-vile, Hell Knight, our anonymous protagonist, and all the rest. These miniatures are re-castings of a set originally sold by Reaper Miniatures in the late 90’s.


From: GameSkinny.com

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, set for release on August 27, has received quite a few inquiries from players in the MMORPG community about the possibility of marriage.

Same-sex marriage, in particular, is causing quite the stir. Recent developments within the LGBTQ community and their fight for marriage equality, such as the repeal of Prop 8 and DOMA, have definitely softened the taboo for some of these issues to be discussed within certain industries, and in this case, the gaming industry.

The folks on the development team, when asked about marriage in the game, stated:

As for same-sex marriage, this is an extremely controversial topic that has been under discussion in the MMO world for the past few years. First we would like to start out with opposite-sex marriage, and then consider the feedback from our players in order to make a careful decision.”

Although I do respect them for at least considering the idea of equality, I can’t help but think of the other games out there that already allow for same-sex relations. Mass Effect and Fable 3, for example, did just fine despite having this option.


Conflict Changes Characters

Games within Games

Many games give you opportunities to play, well, games inside of the. A prime example is Star Wars: Knights of te Old Republic’s Pazzak or Legend of the Five Rings Go. These games can be mundane and menial, but they can also be great opportunities for growth as a character and story advancement.

How, you ask?

Easy, the strategy a GM uses for in-game games is often to give subtle clues, hints, or opportunities to their players through the interactions of the NPC during the game. Now, this is not always the case. Sometimes a game of Poker is just a game of poker, but generally, if your GM takes the time to include a game within their game, you may want to pay close attention to details.

Narrative Combat

There are 3 types of role-playing game (more or less): Mechanical, Narrative, and Cooperative. Most “Pen & Paper” games are cooperative or mechanical, but sometimes you come across Narrative games or highly narrative GM’s.

These types of games can be enormous amounts of fun, as the GM describes the actions of the NPC, the PC’s describe their actions, and the GM describes the consequences for those actions.

Personally, I use this fairly limited in my campaigns as I prefer to have that mechanical variation that makes a narrative game cooperative. While a narrative game can have a very “cinematic” feel, and can lead to some outstanding RP, I personally have always felt that the dice add a certain element of chance and make, not only the players, but the GM’s storytelling more dynamic.

The notable exception this is LARP, where there are (in most cases) no dice or random factors. If you can succeed at something, then you succeed.

It takes a really quick and resourceful GM to tell great narrative combats in table-top, but it only takes a passionate with an idea of where they want the story to go and a will to let he players and dice take them their.

Investigative Games

Investigations are conflicts! It is your character, and your wit, against the GM’s devious and cunning plots and machinations. Sherlock Holmes grew as a character in (some) of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. This can be true of your character as well.

Some of the best storytelling you can have in a game is finding clues, piecing together hints and following trials to their inevitable ends…and then finding out months later your where duped!

Investigation style games tend to be slow burning fuses that will lead to epic RP through subtle growth.

Is Violence in RPG’s Even Needed?

The short answer is no, but conflict is.

I personally don’t think I have ever run a game that didn’t have violence in it, but you can minimize that violence through cunning and guile. If you are looking to run a purely passive have, I wish you the very best of luck, and am very curious to know how it goes.

Personally, I think violence is just another type of conflict for characters, and it can be a great enhancement if used properly, and a great detractor if over done. This is the crux of my main issue with may games like D&D. They are almost mindlessly violent.

Sure, you are reusing the princes from the dragon (who inevitably hides her in a different castle), and that can be a lot of fun, but making choices that alter the very fabric of a story is so much more rewarding.

So…I guess the long answer is, if the violence is used in the same vein as other types of conflict, to tell a meaningful story and provide opportunities for character growth, then use it. But if you can achieve those same goals with out it, then don’t use it.

Final Thoughts

I am a horrible slacker…but that aside:

Conflict in RPG’s is a tool that provides players with the opportunities to change their characters and to grow them into living fantasies.

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S1E6: The Quest – PhysReps and Gaming Aids

Physical Representations & Gaming Aids

While I don’t normally use minis in games I run, they can certainly have an enhancing effect for many players. Don’t let them become the focus though. Minis are intended to make the game more fun, not to become the game.

If you hvae ever seen it, take a look at HeroQuest! Fun game, although a littly pricy now-a-days.


Using a Virtual Table to play a game has been a fun experiance, something relitivly new to any of my groups. The only real drawback has been getting everyone’s technical issues sorted.

Live Action

Costuming is king in a LARP. It is the ultimate gaming aid, and you need to invest a conciderable amount of though, if not money, into your costume, weapons and armor. It really can make or break your gaming experiance.

I recomment The Ren Store, or your local Ren Fair for starting out.



The devil is in the details…CosPlay is often less about the RP and more about the costumeing. Its like LARP Lite on Steroids.

Some judges will rob you of points for store bought items, so know your CosPlay judges and what is expected. If you are just doing it for the fun of a little lite RP at a con, go with what works and don’t worry so much about handcrafting every little bit.

BUT…never underestimate how much more awesome it is to be the person that shows up in a handmade, articulated Iron Man outfit!


Die rollers can be convinent, but nothing beats the sweet, sweet sound of a die bouncing off the table and the collective death rattle of your players when they score a critical faliure!

Fillable character sheets can be nice…but it can lead to deforstiation. Save the planet!

Character Generators do make life a little easier. Here are some links to CG’s we mentioned in the show:

AD&D Core Rules – http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=heroquest&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.XAD%26D+core+rules+program&_nkw=AD%26D+core+rules+program&_sacat=0

L5R CM – https://code.google.com/p/l5rcm/

And…while not a “CG” as such, HeroMachine is still cool – http://www.heromachine.com/heromachine-3-lab/

Other ideas

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Final Thought

Using physreps can add a lot to your game, but they can also make it feel more mechanical and limit your imagination. Before you get too carried away, take stock of what you actually need and how much those physreps can really bring to your game.

You can end up spending a lot of money on physreps, make sure they are things you are actually gonna use. There is nothng like having thousands of dollers worth of gaming equipment you are never gonna use again. Your imagination can be one of the greatest assets you have in gaming, don’t waste a lot of money suppressing it.

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S1E4: The Quest – Gaming Systems

We found some nice treasure while Questing for the latest RPG related news:

Here is some quick RPG News!

CCP Games

CCP Games, creators of the successful space MMORPG EVE Online, have announced they will be harvesting stories from within the game to create comic books, a TV series, and possibly even films set in the EVE universeEVE has never set records for the size of its userbase, but it’s long been known as a game that generates some of the best emergent gameplay in the industry. From battles involving thousands of players to in-game confidence schemes involving currency worth tens of thousands of real dollars, it’s likely you’ve heard about players’ exploits even if you haven’t played the game. CCP is now looking to bring the EVE universe to a wider audience, and rather than having a group of writers dictate all of the lore, they’re letting the players take part. They’ve set up a site where users can share their tales and vote on those of others. CCP has partnered with Dark Horse Comics to make a comic book out of the stories, and with a production company to make a live-action TV show.





The Nature of Attributes

Your attributes are how your character’s make-up is defined. The gifts you where born with, your physical and metal charactirisitcs.

There is a sweet spot for attrubutes though, nobody wants to be the guy who is stupid, ugly and physically impared. By the same token, playing Adonis isn’t as much fin as one might think either, and its not fun to run games for.

You can play any attributes scores, but you may have to change your core concept.


Do you need skills in an RPG?

Generally speaking, skills are needed in most RPG’s. These are how you, as a character seperates themselves from the pack. What you can do in the real world help define your role in sociaty, and skills in an RPG are no different.

Don’t let skills dictate the role-palying though. They are there to enhance your experiance, not define it.Skills should be used as a way to help tell the story but if you if can out RP the NPC, then good on you!

Don’t get carried away either. Some games can have to many skills. As a GM you don’t want to spread out the need for skills to much because it will overly complicate not only your storytelling and slow down your characters effectivness.


While not every game NEEDS combat, conflict is almost always inevitable in some stories. After all, how do we grow without overcoming adversity?

Comabt can become a problem though. It slows down te flow of games and can become overly mechanical. You need to keep the players engaged in the story. You can do this through narration or just speedy combat systems like the New World of Darkness system.

As a player or GM, you should always strive to make combats fun for everyone and keep peoples attention. Don’t let the mechanics limit your creativity.

If your characters find themselves in a huge mass battle, you may find it tough to feel like you are making a difference. You are the heroes of the setting, and your charaters should almost always have some way to affect the tides of battle. Be it through heroic oppertuinits like L5R or small raids away from the fighting that can stall the enemy just long enough to give your side the edge, Mass Combat can be a solid tool for epic storytelling.

House Rules – the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Sometimes the rules just don’t fit the style of story you want to tell, but you can make it happen with a couple fo tweeks. Thats what house rules are for.Sometimes you can just make a couple of small tweeks like changing how inititive works, to adding in entire new rules systems for doing things.

Personally, our groups almost always ad things like hero points and drama dice as a way to allow the players to help tell the story!

The sky is the limit for house rules though. If a rule gets in the way, change it!

Does System Even Matter?

Well, the answer is maybe. While the players really do make the difference, sometimes the system can hinder the storytelling styles of both the GM and the players. The system is how your characters interact with the world around them, and some systems do not work well for some worlds.

If you want a Pirates of the Carrabian or Princess Bride style game, you may not want to strugle with the mechanical nature of d20 when the swashbukling system for 7th sea is already built for that.

Systems can also become so much a part of the setting that the setting itself does not work outside of its original shell. 7th Sea and Legend of the Five Rings became Swashbukling and Oriential Adventures in d20 3/3.5, but lost almost all of their charm and wonder.

Choosing Your System

A lot goes into choosing a system, but in theend it comes down to knowing your style of play and the story you want to run. Choose a system that meets your needs, and allows you to tell the type of story you really want to tell.

Final Thoughts

Every system has its pros and cons, and all that really matters is you have fun. If something doesn’t work, change it!

The post S1E4: The Quest – Gaming Systems appeared first on The Quest.

S1E1 – The Quest: Character Creation

Building Your Concept

Ego Types

The Innocent

Motto: Free to be you and me
Core desire: to get to paradise
Goal: to be happy
Greatest fear: to be punished for doing something bad or wrong
Strategy: to do things right
Weakness: boring for all their naive innocence
Talent: faith and optimism
The Innocent is also known as: Utopian, traditionalist, naive, mystic, saint, romantic, dreamer.

The Orphan/Regular Guy or Gal

Motto: All men and women are created equal
Core Desire: connecting with others
Goal: to belong
Greatest fear: to be left out or to stand out from the crowd
Strategy: develop ordinary solid virtues, be down to earth, the common touch
Weakness: losing one’s own self in an effort to blend in or for the sake of superficial relationships
Talent: realism, empathy, lack of pretense
The Regular Person is also known as: The good old boy, everyman, the person next door, the realist, the working stiff, the solid citizen, the good neighbor, the silent majority.

The Hero

Motto: Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Core desire: to prove one’s worth through courageous acts
Goal: expert mastery in a way that improves the world
Greatest fear: weakness, vulnerability, being a “chicken”
Strategy: to be as strong and competent as possible
Weakness: arrogance, always needing another battle to fight
Talent: competence and courage
The Hero is also known as: The warrior, crusader, rescuer, superhero, the soldier, dragon slayer, the winner and the team player.

The Caregiver

Motto: Love your neighbour as yourself
Core desire: to protect and care for others
Goal: to help others
Greatest fear: selfishness and ingratitude
Strategy: doing things for others
Weakness: martyrdom and being exploited
Talent: compassion, generosity
The Caregiver is also known as: The saint, altruist, parent, helper, supporter.

The Soul Types

The Explorer

Motto: Don’t fence me in
Core desire: the freedom to find out who you are through exploring the world
Goal: to experience a better, more authentic, more fulfilling life
Biggest fear: getting trapped, conformity, and inner emptiness
Strategy: journey, seeking out and experiencing new things, escape from boredom
Weakness: aimless wandering, becoming a misfit
Talent: autonomy, ambition, being true to one’s soul
The explorer is also known as: The seeker, iconoclast, wanderer, individualist, pilgrim.

The Rebel

Motto: Rules are made to be broken
Core desire: revenge or revolution
Goal: to overturn what isn’t working
Greatest fear: to be powerless or ineffectual
Strategy: disrupt, destroy, or shock
Weakness: crossing over to the dark side, crime
Talent: outrageousness, radical freedom
The Outlaw is also known as: The rebel, revolutionary, wild man, the misfit, or iconoclast.

The Lover

Motto: You’re the only one
Core desire: intimacy and experience
Goal: being in a relationship with the people, work and surroundings they love
Greatest fear: being alone, a wallflower, unwanted, unloved
Strategy: to become more and more physically and emotionally attractive
Weakness: outward-directed desire to please others at risk of losing own identity
Talent: passion, gratitude, appreciation, and commitment
The Lover is also known as: The partner, friend, intimate, enthusiast, sensualist, spouse, team-builder.

The Creator

Motto: If you can imagine it, it can be done
Core desire: to create things of enduring value
Goal: to realize a vision
Greatest fear: mediocre vision or execution
Strategy: develop artistic control and skill
Task: to create culture, express own vision
Weakness: perfectionism, bad solutions
Talent: creativity and imagination
The Creator is also known as: The artist, inventor, innovator, musician, writer or dreamer.

The Self Types

The Jester

Motto: You only live once
Core desire: to live in the moment with full enjoyment
Goal: to have a great time and lighten up the world
Greatest fear: being bored or boring others
Strategy: play, make jokes, be funny
Weakness: frivolity, wasting time
Talent: joy
The Jester is also known as: The fool, trickster, joker, practical joker or comedian.

The Sage

Motto: The truth will set you free
Core desire: to find the truth.
Goal: to use intelligence and analysis to understand the world.
Biggest fear: being duped, misled—or ignorance.
Strategy: seeking out information and knowledge; self-reflection and understanding thought processes.
Weakness: can study details forever and never act.
Talent: wisdom, intelligence.
The Sage is also known as: The expert, scholar, detective, advisor, thinker, philosopher, academic, researcher, thinker, planner, professional, mentor, teacher, contemplative.

The Magician

Motto: I make things happen.
Core desire: understanding the fundamental laws of the universe
Goal: to make dreams come true
Greatest fear: unintended negative consequences
Strategy: develop a vision and live by it
Weakness: becoming manipulative
Talent: finding win-win solutions
The Magician is also known as:The visionary, catalyst, inventor, charismatic leader, shaman, healer, medicine man.

The Ruler

Motto: Power isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
Core desire: control
Goal: create a prosperous, successful family or community
Strategy: exercise power
Greatest fear: chaos, being overthrown
Weakness: being authoritarian, unable to delegate
Talent: responsibility, leadership
The Ruler is also known as: The boss, leader, aristocrat, king, queen, politician, role model, manager or administrator.


Fighter – focused on combat abilities, but almost entirely lacking in magical abilities
Rogue – focused on stealth and social skills, and capable of high-damage special attacks balanced by sub-par resistance to injury
Wizard – featuring powerful magical abilities, but physically weak
Cleric – specializing in healing and supportive magical abilities

Other Notes

Remember, when you are designing your character, be sure to understand your GM’s vision for the campaign. The one thing always will ruin your fun, and the fun of others in your group, than having a character that breaks immersion at every turn.

Another good trick when making your character is to ensure you are playing something that is compatible with, or even compliments, the other characters in the party. Be sure to talk to the other players to get ideas. Creative storytelling is what Role-Playing is all about, and you have at least 1 other person you can bounce ideas off of when making your character. Use them.

It often helps the GM, and the other players, if everyone agrees to a predetermined “connection” to the other characters. This can simplify writing a back story and can make it easier to get started quickly. Also, a particularly harsh GM can always manipulate that connection for a better story.

Character History

Never limit yourself to the basic information under your “class”. There are always ways to expand, and deepen, your character.

7th Sea’s “20 Questions” is a great place to start. I could not find an actual copy of these (without Piratingstuff, don’t do that!), bvut I did find a link to a form where they listed them: http://vaelis.forumotion.com/t79-seventh-seas-twenty-questions

Another great resource for both players and GM’s, when making characters, is http://www.obsidianportal.com/

Alternative Methods


  1. Don’t be afraid to change something that’s not working
  2. Roleplaying beyond your character sheet
  3. Grow your personality based on what happens to your character
  4. Set goals for your character

Specific Types of games


When creating a LARP character, please keep in mind the physical considerations such as,
Racial features – i.e. height & weight. Its ok to be short or tall as an Elf, but long beards and obisity are not really Elven triats.
How you look is how you look, you don’t get to look like the dashing hero if you look like Michael Cera, but that doesn’t meen you cannot ACT like the dashing hero.


You can do anything, be anyone. You are a butterfly in the sky! Fly twice as high; but keep in mind your roleplaying limitations. While there are skills you can get in games to help make up for your own shortcomings, try to play a character that you can actually achive. If you are not good at solving puzzels, maybe you should play Wattson and not Holmes.

Final Thoughts

Never be afraid to reach, but remember that Role-Playing is supposed to be fun for everyone. Its a colaberitive art form, and you get to be a part of the epic storytelling you and your friends can dream up. Role-Playing is about telling a story and sharing in a “choose-your-own-adventure” story where you and your friends get to be the kick-ass heroes that save the day! Your imagination is your only limit, and with a little tender loving care, even Scrouge can expand his thinking and imagine greater!

The post S1E1 – The Quest: Character Creation appeared first on The Quest.