Table Top

Costumes, Role Playing, and Unity

One of my absolute favorite aspects of fandom is the costuming and roleplaying, and I would have to say they are the two most maligned and stigmatized things that we do.  Let's start with the most accepted by the popular culture and proceed to the least understood.

Computer Roleplaying Games

Mass appeal of video games have normalized RPGs on the computer, and why not.  Final Fantasy, Mass Effect, and Knights of the Old Republic were all such brilliant games, it is hard to see how they couldn't have had a mass market appeal, but in the one place where Roleplaying should flourish, it is all but extinct.

There was once a type of game known as the Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG).  The problem is that these too entered the popular culture, and they spawned a new bane: badge collectors.  A sizable number of the MMORPG players became obsessed with their statistics, what badges they earned, and what loot they could get.  The software companies saw these players as their core audience and in some cases, there only audience.

The games were increasingly designed for these players and not for the fans of story.  Coinidentally, the acronym was shortened from MMORPG to simply MMO.  Players have done what they can to keep roleplaying alive, but they are generally isolated to a specific server or guild, and they are not aided by the software designers who more and more are crafting games that challenge your prowess with a keyboard and mouse and don't require any thought whatsoever.

This is one of the reasons I am so excited about Star Wars: The Old Republic and Stargate Worlds.  They are trying to bring story into the games and make it front and center.  I wish them the best of luck.

Table Top Role Playing Games

Earthdawn Gamemaster's Compendium (RedBrick Li...
Image via Wikipedia

Table top RPG fans are the geeks that geeks love to hate.  Don't believe me?  Listen carefully to a lot of the podcasts out there.  It won't take you too long to find people having a geeky conversation about their favorite tech and occationally mocking TTRPG players.

Table Top games are not  as easy to play as their computerized bretheren, but they are a lot more fun.  There are more requirements to play:

  • The Rule Books
  • Friends who have free time to come over
  • Dice
  • Creativity
  • Imagination

I didn't stutter at the end, and no, I am not padding the list.  Creativity is the ability to think originally, and imagination is the ability to see with the minds eye events as they are described to you.

I think those last two more than anything else makes people not like tabel top games.  Personally, I love them.  I run an Earthdawn game at the house every Sunday.  Nothing brings friends together for a good time like a shared adventure built from the collective imaginations of everyone there.

Live Action Role Playing

Vampire: The Masquerade
Image via Wikipedia

Live Action Role Playing (LARPing) is penultimate expression of role playing.  There are numerous systems for LARPing and they all generally involve renting a location, playing in a park, or the storyteller's home.  Most LARPers dress up in elaborate costumes and carry props to aid in game play.

I used to play Vampire: The Masquerade both as a table top game and as a LARP, and I have to say, the LARPs were always more fun.  We played at local conventions and I ran a chronicle that spanned various players homes, parks, and a few businesses who allowed us to use their establishment.

Who doesn't enjoy getting dressed up and spending a night as someone else?

One aspect of the LARPs I've played that made them so fun was that they were locked to the locations they took place.  The story was handled through notes given to the players to explain what happened between sessions, and a couple players who agreed to play according to the scripted motives I provided for them.  To this day, some of my favorite memories took place at LARPs.

We were a part of a LARP network where storytellers coordinated large scale events between cities, and at conventions our players would play through pivitol stories.  The largest LARP event we threw had 500 players in attendence.  3,00o players made up the network.  We coordinated through a email list.

LARPs are emense fun, and I miss them terribly.  I had hoped that MMOs would provide a platform for virtual LARPs, but so far, they haven't.

Costuming

Death EaterSome people just love dressing up.  They don't roleplay at all, they just wear the costume for enjoyment.  For some, it is an uniform.  For others, it is an expression of their identification with the character or race they are recreating.  And others do it for the challenge of recreating the costume.

Steampunk is an entire movement built around costuming for the sheer fun of it.

Fans who Play together Stay together

Most of the deep, personal relationships I have developed with fans over the years has been between fans I have roleplayed with.  We share an experience that is truly unique to the players who were there.  Memories of events that are not replecatable in real life.

All these years later, I still run into people at the conventions who remeber the night my Taleison should have seen his reflection in the mirror and went mad.  We talk about it like a moment from a movie or series that we loved, but our connection to the event is so much more personal because we were there when it happened.

So if you haven't before.  I hightly recommend to gather up your friends and play a game with them.  Feel free to choose the type, but make sure it is one that will build those memories that will last a lifetime.

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A Tear for Jaspree

atearforjaspree If you are an Earthdawn player like me than is comes as exciting news.

This volume contains the adventure A Tear for Jaspree, designed for Journeymen characters of any Discipline. In this adventure, the characters discover short-sighted greed, confront one of Barsaive's most dangerous predators, and become the instruments of a Passion's wrath. In the process they encounter some unlikely allies, and meet a village with its own story to tell, one in which they get in trouble if they ask too many questions, but could also serve as a safe haven in the future. Requires use of the Player’s and Gamemaster’s Compendiums.

Because of the increase in shipping costs, RedBrick has only released a digital version, but I have found digital role playing books to be more useful on the laptop.  They are easy to search, and their spins don’t fall apart.

Did he say Earthdawn in Space?

DORP-TV interview Red Brick at Spiel '08.

They discuss Age of Legends, Earthdawn, Equinox, and the future of the Earthdawn Novels.

If I am not mistaken, he explained Equinox as Earthdawn in Space.  I am going to buy a copy when it comes out.  The idea of horrors in space sounds interesting.  I also like that they are ignoring Shadowrun and are doing their own things.

While I am on the subject, Mordom posted some links to Earthdawn dice rollers:

(via The Earthdawn Blog 1,2)

Roleplaying: Knights of the Old Republic

starwars_article_KOTORguide_pic1_en Wizards of the Coast releases a Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide.

Features new game material from a variety of sources and includes characters, weapons, droids, and vehicles

Includes an introductory adventure as well as adventure seeds and ready-to-use game statistics for key adversaries

Contains new Force powers, Force techniques, and Force secrets for Jedi and Sith characters, as well as new options for characters of all classes

New talents and feats for Mandalorian neo-crusader, Republic soldier, and Jedi (via Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide)

I have to pick up a copy of the book and find a way to run a game or better still, play in one.

D&D 4th Edition Goes Online

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Monster Manual June 7th is slowly approaching and with it the impending release of D&D 4th Edition. I am concerned that simplification of the rule set will not take the richness out of the games and the various settings that rely on them. The most exciting part of the release it the coming D&D Insider:

To start with, the digital initiative, which is called Dungeons & Dragons Insider, will, for the first time, make it feasible to play a game of D&D with your friends over the Internet and without having to pull out the thick, iconic, hardcover books that have for so long been an essential element to the experience.

That makes my whole body go woo! I would love to run some of these games. There are no details about pricing or game mechanics as yet, but the idea of setting up stories that can be played online is a thrill. I have tried several virtual table tops, but none of them have been worth the price.

The images I have seen from the D&D Insider character generator are exciting and the reported customization options thrill me. I am curious to see how easy the dungeon maker is to use, and what level of control and how time consuming the DM tools are to use. I wonder if it with have a voice chat built in or if Skype or something else along with it.

I signed up for the game which in not available for download yet.

Finally, something in gaming to get excited about.

(via Crave)

Lordi Goes Earthdawn

This is too cool, it was posted yesterday so I will allow myself to believe it is not an April Fools story:

Finnish rock sensations Lordi have revealed a deal to play their next gig wearing costumes from the popular Earthdawn roleplaying game. Band members will don costumes representing troll Sky Raiders, ork Warriors, and the ever-popular windling Beastmaster -- worn by no one less than Lordi's lead singer, Mr Lordi himself.

I will be on the lookout for pictures of this. Biggest widling ever!

(via Earthdawn)

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Miniatures

Here is some really cool looking Star Wars miniatures from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Last fall Wizards of the Coast released a set of 60 Star Wars miniatures that came with game cards containing stats for use in table top games. 16 of those 60 miniatures are from The Force Unleashed. Get your Star Wars Miniatures - The Force Unleashed Huge Packs miniatures [ Here ]

Whether I play the table top game or not I am excited about the game and will definitely get some miniatures for my desk. These four are on the top of my list.

20080222_rancor

Felucian Warrior on Rancor: A fearsome enemy, the Felucian can regenerate, recovering lost health.

20080222_golem

Junk Golem: Kazdan Paratus' bizarre Force-imbued creatures, these massive technobeasts can deliver massive damage with splash attacks of sizable blast radius.

20080222_uggernaut 20080222_atst

Uggernaut: A large Ugnaught assault walker, this thing can unleash a furious assault on enemy units.

Wookiee Hunter AT-ST: Used by the Empire to rustle up Wookiee slaves on Kashyyyk, this huge miniature boasts a net gun attack meant to immobilize the enemy.

(via Star Wars)