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Friday, November 22, 2013

Gaming Music Organization

I've collected a fair bit of gaming music, to provide ambiance and mood depending on the game I run. I'm not always using my laptop, so I have a number of playlists on an old iPhone-cum-iTouch. I've included movie soundtracks, Celtic music, electronic music, popular tunes, and RPG Background Loops from Plate Mail Games (who is running a followup KickStarter to produce more gaming music and sound effects).

I'm working on just how to sort the tunes. Here are the general categories I use:

  • Chase
  • Conflict
  • Ethereal
  • Long Tracks
  • Pastoral
  • Quiet
  • Quiet Builds
  • Romantic
  • Sinister
  • Sneaky
  • Somber
  • Spooky
  • Tavern
  • Temple
  • Tense
  • Tribal

Dresden Files:
  • Action
  • Ambient
  • Club
  • Dreaming
  • Goth
  • Hard
  • Indie
  • Jazz Club
  • Lowlife
  • Nevernever
  • Ocean
  • Quiet
  • Quiet Builds
  • Radio
  • Religious
  • Spooky
  • Summer Court
  • Winter Court
  • various cultural subgroups
Background Loops:
  • Environmental
  • Fantasy
  • Historical
  • Horror
  • Modern
  • Ocean
  • Otherworlds
  • Outdoor
  • Pulp and SteamPunk
  • Sci Fi
  • Social
  • Supers
  • Dreamscape
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Modern
  • New Age
  • Sci Fi
How would/do you organize any gaming music you might use in your RPGs? Please take my survey below:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Simple Gaming Encryption

If you want to spice up a gaming handout, a simple substitution cipher can go a long way towards stumping players for awhile.

This site - Decrypto - can automate the process for you, as well as attempt to solve a cipher you input.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gaming Music

I'm setting up my playlist for my tremulus game, using softrope, a sound mixer designed for gaming application. I'm getting to use many of the sound files I got from the Plate Mail Games Kickstarter. These background loops are about ten minutes long, set up to repeat seamlessly, and cover a wide variety of gaming soundtrack needs!

This thread about how to set up playlists in softrope happens to also include some other good links to gaming soundtrack resources:
Note: for the NWN community pack, you can batch rename .bmu files to .mp3 with no problem. So glad I found the DOS command for that!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween Gaming

I'll be running a small group through a Halloween session of tremulus this year. I read a first impressions/playtest article about tremulus, and was inspired to figure out tokens of my own to use for Lore and Hard Moves.

After brainstorming a few options, it occurred to me that I could raid my copy of Arkham Horror, the Mythos-themed board game, which includes Clue tokens as well as Elder Sign tokens!

I have acquired some Sculpy, in the hopes of creating custom tokens of my own in the future, but for now, I'll take the easy way out!

Roleplaying Game SRD Goodness!

It's been a good couple of weeks to be a gamer. A few Kickstarters are shipping out some long-awaited content (I just received Hillfolk in the mail, as well as the/a* Fate System Toolkit).

A few systems have also published open, free system reference documents (SRDs).

  • Fate (and Fate Accelerated Edition) - soon to include the Toolkit (this was released awhile back)
  • GUMSHOE (the system behind Trail of Cthulhu, Esoterrorists, Ashen Stars, and more)
  • DramaSystem (featured in the new Hillfolk RPG) - I finally got to play this at BigBadCon
  • 13th Age (the Archmage Engine, as they call it)
  • WaRP (Wanton Role-Playing) - used in Over the Edge, which I'm not familiar with

If you've been interested in any of these systems, give their SRD a look.

* Evil Hat insists that this is not *the* definitive Toolkit for the Fate System, but merely *a* toolkit.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Conflict Mechanisms in Roleplaying Games

There are many ways to handle the numerous conflict types in a roleplaying game. What are your thoughts? Fill out my survey below.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Metal Washers and Silicon Molds - Gaming Props

I think I'm ready to try gluing paper printouts to 1-inch washers to see how those work as gaming tokens (thanks for the suggestion, mysterious, readers!).

I also had another idea: finding some 1-inch-round silicone molds, putting the resulting token at the bottom, and then pouring some acrylic or lacquer over it and removing the coin when it is dried. Anyone tried this?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dealing with Gaming Errata

I did this survey back in 2007. A lot of my D&D 3.x gaming books had errata and FAQ documents compiled by the publisher to help clarify and correct oversights in the printing. I had embarked on a quest to make sure I know what needs to be corrected, so I bought a bunch of transparent 1/4" sticky dots.

 If an errata indicated something is to be deleted, I placed a red dot over the beginning of the text to be excised. If something was added, or improved on by the errata, I used a green dot. If something was otherwise changed or required reference, I used a yellow or blue dot, depending on the tone or which color would show up better.

 I had refrained from actually writing in corrections, or making any other notes on the pages of the book. However, once I finished with my D&D books, I promptly stopped doing this altogether.

 I'm curious how other gamers deal with errata, so I compiled this poll. Please let me know what you use to deal with this phenomenon:

Survey: Gaming Miniatures

I've tried a variety of options for gaming miniatures, and I'm still trying to settle on a preference. Mostly I use shared imagination, especially when running Fate games.

What are your gaming visualization preferences? What other options have you discovered in your gaming experience?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Syncretizing Gaming Best Practices

I am attempting to syncretize a collection of GM touchpoints from my collection of RPGs and gaming articles. There are so many good resources out there, and I feel I'm swimming in a sea filled with numerous currents, pulled in many directions. I'm hoping to compile a guidance document to bolster my gaming.

This is probably just a fraction of the potential best practices to be gleaned from these games or resources, and I certainly have more items that I could trawl for gems. Some of these do have some bearing on the rules or character creation, it is true, but my ideal is to have a system-neutral skeleton that works for me.




At any time, if any person involved in the game becomes uncomfortable, they can tap or pick up the X card and the thing in progress will stop – no questions asked, no explanations required.
The TowerProvide a player with a graceful way out of a game; provide a benefit to the players remaining
Apocalypse World (and other *World offerings)
Fronts, PC-NPC-PC Triangles; Countdown clock; streamlined character sheet
Generate conflict between PCs; get characters up and running quickly
Aspects, Compels
Punch the player in the Aspects
Lazy Dungeon Master
Numerous shortcuts

3-Line NPCs
  • Line 1: What the players can see: NPC appearance and what the NPC is doing at the moment they meet
  • Line 2: What to portray: What the NPC does for a living and personality
  • Line 3: How to progress the story: Adventure or encounter hook

  • Introduce an NPC Every Session
  • Whack an NPC Every Session
  • Think Like/Portray/Impersonate the NPC
  • Crunch Out NPCs While You GM (using a standard array of stat bonuses)
  • 3x3 Method
    Relationship Mapping

    Location Description Template
    • Room Type/ Environment/ Status;
    • Obvious Elements/ Subtle Elements/ Hidden Elements/ Backstory Elements
    important "clue" elements in each list could be highlighted
    How to build a Villain, by Jim Butcher
    Villains need: a Motivation, some Power, some Admirable Qualities, and Individuality

    Jim Butcher’s Writing Advice

    1. Opening
    2. Big Middle
    3. End
    Character Development: Exaggeration, Exotic position, Introduction, CHARACTERISTIC ENTRY ACTION, Verisimilitude, Tags, Traits

    Three Clue Rule
    Permissive Clue Finding

    Automatic clues; spend for better clues; Drives

    Hamlet’s Hit Points
    Tracking story beats

    Stealing Cthulhu
    Switching up tropes, monsters, and motivations

    Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    Gaming Props: Token Efforts Continued

    I tried the 1-inch round punch on some of the thin chipboard sheets I use as backing for printed map tiles - the device is not sharp or strong enough to get through, so the best I could probably do is print on (or affix labels to) the thickest cardstock that my printer will accept, maybe laminate it, then trim using the punch.

    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    Gaming Props: Tokens

    In days of old, I amassed a collection of tokens to be used as miniatures for the RPGs I was running (science fiction and fantasy, mostly). I bought sheets of 1-inch-round labels, on which I would print faces, monsters, etc., which I would affix to 1-inch round wooden disks from an art supply store. Some of the wooden disks were basically squared on the edge, which was perfect. Some of them, however, were a lot more rounded and smooth, which made the label crinkle at the edges.

    Recently, I acquired a laminator as well as a 1-inch punch. I think what I may do now is experiment. I have full-sheet labels, so my plan is to print a bunch of 1-inch portraits/images, affix the label to a letter-sized piece of cardboard, and then use the punch to liberate them. I may also see what I can do to seal them with acrylic or something like that.

    Another option may be to print on some cardstock, laminate it, then punch it out. That would expose the edges to possible damage, but the image would remain protected.

    Gaming Update

    It's been awhile since I blogged about gaming. I'm actually doing okay on gaming at the moment. There are plenty of games I want to try, and I have a stockpile of indie games I've collected and perused. But my time for gaming is already near peak.

    I belong to the LARP troupe Dreams of Deirdre, and we just published a book explaining the rules we've been using and honing for our games over the years: LARPS. We run games at a number of Bay Area gaming conventions. I am also the LARP coordinator for BigBadCon, an October RPG/LARP convention held in Oakland, CA.

    I just got out of a long-term RuneQuest game which we played almost every month for over 5 years. I am looking forward to moving on to a new regular game.

    My Monday group and I played the Dresden Files RPG for a number of years, and I was pleased how well they took to the Fate ruleset. I also spent a lot of time on the forums for DFRPG. We did a brief stint playing Apocalypse World, but it wasn't everybody's scene, so we moved on to Bulldogs!, a Fate game adapted (and streamlined) from a d20 sci-fi setting.

    In days of old, I cut my teeth on Champions, AD&D 2nd edition, and a little Call of Cthulhu on the side. I have since delved into Mutants & Masterminds, Trail of Cthulhu, and D&D 3.x. I never made the leap to either Pathfinder or D&D 4.0, though with the number of supplements I acquired for D&D 3.x, Pathfinder would make the most sense, nothing against 4.0.

    I got into Fate when my Monday group wanted to do a Dresden Files game, and when the opportunity came up, I invested in the Fate Core Kickstarter, which has been a bounty of great supplements and books. I have been adapting my Bulldogs! game with an occasional rule from the more recent Fate Core, but for some key elements, I remain true to the established Bulldogs! rules.

    I occasionally play Fiasco, and have amassed a hefty dossier of playsets.

    I have set up a GM Walk-Away Kit for gaming emergencies (though I'll have to rely on a laptop instead of a tablet).

    The list of games I want to try is quite long, and I may attempt it here later. There are so many developers creating new and innovative RPGs, and some larger publishers have created some beautiful work and nice games.

    Posting from Blogger

    I have successfully linked Blogger to my domain name, in the hopes of then linking entries up to G+.