Introduction to Daydreaming

category-daydreamingDaydreaming is a new, occasional column where I get to lament that there are too many games and not enough time. It’s to give me the opportunity to discuss games that I love, but will probably never get a chance to run or play. Sometimes it’s a matter of the demands of life and commitments to the campaigns I’m already in that keep me from getting around to it. Sometimes it’s that I love the game, but I can’t find enough other people who share that passion to form a group. So these games sit on my shelf, on in a folder on my hard drive, and beckon to me, with unrequited promises of fun and creative expression.

It will also give me a chance to talk about other people’s games. As much as it probably makes good business sense to only talk about Asparagus Jumpsuit releases all day, every day, the truth is that there are good games out there that spark my imagination, and are so good that they deserve a plug. So once in a while, at least, I can take a break and encourage you to go spend your money somewhere else. And who knows, some of the things I write about here might somehow end up as future Aparagus Jumpsuit releases.

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October in Finland

bw-forest

Throughout the month of October, I’m told,  daytime temperatures will generally reach highs of around 7°C,  about 45°F. At night the average minimum temperature drops down to around 2°C, or 36°F. It’s still the rainy season, but by the end of the month we’ll begin to get some snow on the ground.

The Finns don’t do Halloween. Some adults, maybe, and some horror fans will leverage it for what it’s worth, but it’s not a big thing for kids. No trick or treat, or trick or treat alternatives.

Pyhäinpäivä, or All Saints Day, on November 1st, is a national holiday, meaning that government offices, banks, schools, and a lot of other places are closed. It’s a celebration of all of the Christian saints who don’t have their own special day. Finns spend the day visiting the grave sites of loved ones. At night there are candlelight vigils. It’s one holiday that’s not marked by a lot of partying and drinking, and is observed with quiet contemplation and reflection.

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And My Favorite Tabletop Roleplaying Game of All Time Is…

rpg03For the final entry in the #rpgaday challenge, the big reveal is supposed to be my favorite roleplaying game of all time. For many people, I’m certain that this is an easy question to answer. If you only really play one game, and have been faithful and true to that game for decades, then that’s pretty much your game. I know many, many people that only play Dungeons & Dragons, or Call of Cthulhu, or Savage Worlds, or GURPS, or HERO, and so on, and so on, and so on. I know just as many people who are more free-wheeling and egalitarian, playing a little of this, a little of that, and trying as many different games as possible. I tend to lean more in that direction.

In theory, I think that answering the question of what your favorite roleplaying game is also requires an explanation as to why. It may be because it’s the on you had the most fun with, or the one you think has the best writing or design, or it may be your favorite because it brings back a lot of good memories. The criteria for making that choice are wide open. That’s pretty cool, because anyone should be free to like anything for any reason.

But enough stalling. You’re waiting for my answer. You might not like it, because you might think it sounds like a cop out. My favorite roleplaying game of all time hasn’t been written yet. It doesn’t exist because I haven’t created it yet. My favorite roleplaying game of all time is one that I will have worked on and brought into being. It will be my favorite because I am incredible proud of it. It will be my favorite because I will have worked very hard on it, pushed the limits of my abilities and put my very soul into it, created it as a labor of love. It will be my go-to for long campaigns, one-shots, and convention appearances. It will be the one I’m known for. It will be my masterpiece.

My first full roleplaying game, Starship Tyche, is available for preorder now! Explore the far reaches of outer space! Meet interesting aliens, godlike beings, mad computers, and battle the forces of the T’Leng Empire in the name of the Coalition of United Planets!Its powered by Fate!

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“Rare” Roleplaying Games? Toys Are Meant to Be Played With

rpg01Today’s first #rpgaday topic is “the rarest RPG I own”. Since every RPG I currently own is on PDF, none of it is really rare. I could talk about the rarest RPG thing I’ve ever owned, but I have a philosphical objection to any sort of books being “rare.” We live in the 21st century. This is the future. We don’t have flying cars (for good reason — you’ve seen how people drive, now imagine them in the air) but we should be able to have every book, ever, available to everyone in an electronic format. Nothing should ever go out of “print.”

Rare, then, becomes a quality of physical objects in limited quantities. Buckle up, because now I’m going to slip into a rant about simple living and minimalism. Why do you need that thing? Do you use that thing? Does that thing improve the quality of your life? Does that thing make you a better person? Do you sleep better at night because you own a copy of that thing? Does owning that thing make the world a better place for you? When you’re having a really bad day to you stop and think, “Well, at least I still own that thing?” Is there really any value add to owning the rare version of a thing over a non-rare version, and if there isn’t a non-rare version, is there actually a true value-add to your life because you own something that other people don’t? Really?

Toys are meant to be played with, comics are meant to be read, games are meant to be played, and “collections” and artificial scarcity don’t do anything to promote those hobbies, create opportunities for fun, or act in the interest of spreading the most possible joy and happiness to the widest possible range of people.

My first full roleplaying game, Starship Tyche, is available for preorder now! Explore the far reaches of outer space! Meet interesting aliens, godlike beings, mad computers, and battle the forces of the T’Leng Empire in the name of the Coalition of United Planets!Its powered by Fate!

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Who Else Wants a New RPG for Half-Price?

Starship Tyche RPG

Galaxy Quest is coming to Netflix starting in October, and William Shatner has confirmed that he’s been approached to appear in the next Star Trek film. If you’re anything like me, you get fired up over a great movie and want to bring some of that excitement to the table. If you’ve ever had the itch to play a solid science fiction roleplaying game in the vein of those movies and the TV series that inspired them, then this is the ideal first step.

Call me crazy, but I’m a little surprised you still haven’t taken me up on this preorder deal yet. An original setting that pays homage to what made a certain cult hit great. Powered by Fate Accelerated, making it simple enough to recruit your non-gamer friends but with enough meat and options to keep veteran gamers satisfied.

http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/137278/Starship-Tyche-PREORDER

I get that we’re a new company and we don’t have a long track record. That’s why we’re not doing a Kickstarter and asking you to invest in promises. The game’s done. It’s in the can. It’s built on an established and award-winning game system. It’s coming out this Friday. We’re going to help you mitigate the risk by lowering the preorder price from the suggested retail price of $19.95 to just $10.

But only until Friday. The price goes up when the game comes out.

So DO IT NOW before it gets lost in the shuffle of life!

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Design RPG Encounters Without Hours of Prep Time

rpg05We’re on Day 29 of the #rpgaday challenge. Since it was designed to take place last month, in August, there are 31 topics. As September only has 30 days, I’m going to double up and finish this sucker off tomorrow.

Today’s topic is supposed to be my most memorable encounter. I’m assuming it means something in-game, not some fantastic encounter I had with a famous game designer at a convention or something. I don’t want to talk about that. Frankly, most of my memorable encounters were bad ones. Some of them are encounters that I ran as a gamemaster that turned out just terrible and continue to haunt me. Some of them were inflicted upon me as a player by terrible gamemasters. Those aren’t memory I really want to dredge up. I’d rather stay positive. So I want to talk about my secret to crafting a good encounter in a roleplaying game.

Make sure everyone has something to do.

That’s it. It doesn’t matter where you fall on the sandbox-to-railroad spectrum. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a dungeon crawl or using a beat chart for a story-driven adventure. Make sure that in every scene, there is something for every player at the table to do. Ideally, this means having something for their characters to do, which means knowing their characters and tailoring things so that they get to contribute something meaningful that plays to their strengths. It might mean handing a player the character sheet for a supporting character to play if their own character isn’t in the scene. It might mean handing them a stack of comic books to read or sending the into another room to play video games for a while if they’re not going to be active in the game for a while. Just keep them occupied.

The specifics of this will vary, of course with the personalities and needs of your players and your games. I’m one of those people that, when I’m not  active in a scene, is happy to sit quietly and watch other people roleplay. That’s my “something to do”. Other people need an activity, or to be in the game in some capacity at all times. Some people can handle being out of the game for a scene or two, others are okay being out longer. Know your people Know what they like, what they want, what they need, and provide it. That’s actually all there is to it.

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What the Starship Tyche Preorder Sales Mean to Me

Art by Marcus Coltrin
Art by Marcus Coltrin

Allow me a moment to get schmaltzy here and tell you how significant the preorder sales figures on Starship Tyche are to me.

For a start, understand that I’m not going to become fabulously wealthy and retire on what I make from this game. Anyone in the RPG publishing industry already knows that. People who run successful Kickstarter campaigns would probably laugh at the relatively paltry amount I’ve generated.

But I get to pay the rent this month without dipping into our savings or scrambling for some extra last-minute freelance work. That alone is huge.

Since I can at least cover other monthly expenses, it’s further evidence that what I do is in fact a “real” job. That’s going to be helpful in the future when dealing with my in-laws and the Finnish immigration service.

That I’m selling anything at all is proof of concept for the business plan and business model that I’ve been working on in college for the past two years. That just makes me feel good.

If this were a credit card commercial, I’d end with how the feeling of gratitude (and yes, validation) that people are willing to spend money for something I wrote is priceless. I know I said up front that I was going to be schmaltzy, but I don’t know that I want to go that far.

My first full roleplaying game, Starship Tyche, is available for preorder now! Explore the far reaches of outer space! Meet interesting aliens, godlike beings, mad computers, and battle the forces of the T’Leng Empire in the name of the Coalition of United Planets!Its powered by Fate!

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