You should already know I’m a noob in the game universe. Following my post “RPG: Hearthstone, my newest addiction,” some of our readers pointed out to me that Hearthstone isn’t exactly an RPG, but first and foremost a TCG.
I made my case, they made theirs, and in the end we still had doubts.
While Hearthstone is based on as hardcore a roleplaying game as World of Warcraft undoubtedly is—or is it? We’ll get back to this—Hearthstone itself is more of a card game. You do get into character, but you don’t create the whole persona—I mean, you can’t even edit or change their speech bubbles during games. You’re stuck with the personality that each class has been given.
You can’t actively trade cards with other players either. You can disenchant yours, get dust and then craft new ones, but it’s not like your friend can entice you with three awesome cards just so he can have your Ragnaros.
However, when you’re playing against your friends, be it a friendly banter or the ultimate challenge, you’re not “you.” There’s this Mage, Warrior, Hunter, or Rogue who molds your actions—and therefore how your personality comes through. Of course you will have a determined gaming strategy that sets you apart. Maybe you like to attack the Hero directly from the very beginning instead of wiping all its minions off the table. Nevertheless, one can argue that you are indeed playing a role. You don’t have as much creative freedom as you get in other RPGs, but you are in character nonetheless.
“How about the cards?” I can hear some of you shouting. “How can you not see that you’re playing freaking cards?!?”
Well, yes, cards are the gateway to your actions, they’re how you express yourself—outside of the speech bubbles. You can change the backs of the cards, and you can choose whether or not to use the golden ones, giving your personal touch to the game. Hey, you can even buy new characters that will, in turn, grant you access to new card backs. And don’t forget that you can interact with the different settings where you’re playing.
Then again, what makes an RPG or a TCG? Wait. You didn’t think there were just these two terms did you? Because there are more to count, starting this small list—and this is just concerning the CG part as a constant:
BCG: Battle Card GameCCG: Customizable Card Game
ECG: Expandable Card Game
LCG: Living Card Game
OCG: Official Card Game
OCG: Original Card Game
TCG: The Card Game
XCG: Expandable Card Game
This IS confusing.
Even worse, did you know some people claim that WoW goes by the name of TCG? Hey! Don’t crucify me! I have yet to play it to reach any conclusion.
If you look for definitions of each of the aforementioned terms, they vary from source to source. Opinions differ and the rules get hazy when you scan through different forums.
So… Here I am. New at this and without certainties about nomenclatures. But you know what? Even though most of you would probably smack me in the face for saying this, I do have to admit that I don’t really care what it is called. The important word on that fancy and—sometimes confusing—pot of acronyms is the G word. I simply want to enjoy myself playing GAMES, no matter if they’re slightly more TC based or RP oriented.
May I just add how interesting this whole acronym thing is? It makes you feel like you’re an old soul gamer. No? Is it just me? Well, at least it impresses non-gamers… Anyway…
What do you think? RPG or TCG? Weigh in with your opinion in the comments and see if you can convince me!
When I was in high school, I ran my first D&D game. I hadn’t been gaming very long, and I had a ton of fairy tale tropes that were stronger influences than the D&D cannon. My game did not really fit the D&D archetypes, and while I did a great job rolling with the way the players took my material (because, hey, they were upperclassmen and veteran gamers and it was my first DMing experience), I learned a lot about the difference between writing—and writing for gamers. The core of the difference is that when you’re writing a work that stands alone, you know where the story goes and where it’s going to end. When you’re writing for gamers? Well, be prepared for everything.
As a game master, one of the nicest tools in the arsenal is the ability to go off script. So, your tabletop Shotguns and Sorcery gamers have decided that they don’t want to do the mission given to them by the Dragon Emperor, and instead want to spend the day shopping in Gnometown? You roll with it. That may mean arresting them and getting them back to the hook (because when is saying no to the Dragon Emperor a good idea?), but you humor them. It may mean changing the adventure to be about evading the Imperial Dragon’s Guard, and taking the bones of the adventure you designed and changing all the flavor so that when they get chased out of Dragon City, the zombies you prepped are there for a different reason than the quest they were supposed to go on in the first place.
But what if you’re writing an adventure, or interactive fiction, for players you’ve never met? If you’ve played with gamers who like to go off script, you know how challenging it can be to anticipate their options. But that’s exactly what adventure writers and interactive novel writers are asked to do. I’ve written my fair share of tabletop adventures and I’m now three apps into writing multiple choice novels, and I still don’t know the best solution to this conundrum. But I know the first thing that I have to do when I start writing is realize: I’m not the only writer.
Is that a surprise? If you’re a gamer: congratulations! I’m not writing my story when I’m writing a game. I’m trying to write one for you to make your own. And that’s the real key. Any game story I write, the player should feel like the star. As the player, you should be able to make choices that suit the backstory you’ve created, beyond the text I’ve written. You should be able to tailor your character to reflect the culture and romantic inclinations you think suit them best. You shouldn’t be held back by my imagination.
Am I always going to have all the options everyone would like? In a word: no. My playtesters will tell you, though, that if they present an idea I haven’t thought of, I’ll work it in if I can. And—to some degree—if it suits the framework of the story as I’ve envisioned it. Because that’s your job as a gamer too: you’re the star, but we’re working on the story together. I hope you’ll see some of me in the world I give to you.
If you’re a game designer or an adventure writer yourself, this can be one of the most mind-wracking, brain-twisting challenges you’ll ever have—and you’ll come out on the other side better for it, because your imagination has to expand beyond a single point of view to encompass the potential points of view of thousands of players. And when you walk away, you can guess that as memorable as your NPCs are, as great as the details are in your world, the character the players will remember the best are the ones they created. And that’s exactly as it should be.
Well, tomorrow is Christmas Eve! Yep, already another round up of eating copious amounts of food, giving presents and being surrounded by the ones you love.
On Xmas day, you’ll probably go through the same routine every year: the cheesy movie playing on the background, the kids trying out their shiny new toys AND the small group that turns to board games. But I’m talking about Monopoly and Party& Co.. And this is where you come in and introduce them to the magic and awesome world of cool board games and RPGs!
Be prepared to face resistance. Unless you’re family is already cool and geek there’s a big probability that Monopoly will win. But don’t get discouraged just yet!
Here’s your plan:
1- Prepare your favorite(and also newbie friendly ) game.
2- Take it with you (Too obvious, right? But when your kids are screaming and your wife is asking if you got everything in the car, you’ll thank me for this dull in your face advice.)
3- Casually, mention the game as much as you can. Namedrop subtly, though.
4- Find the most likely person to turn into an ally and stuck with them. When you feel they’re ready, mention what a great time you had playing that game (over&over again = brainwash them).
5- Make it relatable to something they’re interested in: politics, mystery, deducting, fantasy…
6- When the time comes to pull that dusty moustachy cardboard box, Pitch Your Game!
Point number 5 is probably the one that will get everyone excited and playing it through the afternoon. So make sure you know what your dear one like!
So? Are you prepared?
I’m going to conduct my own experiment: “Avalon the Resistance”. I’m in love with this game and how it really changes people while they’re in character – it tends to be a bit scary to see your bestie lie to your face with utter most ease.
Anyway, this will be my project: me, my cousins, my grandmother and her sister playing Avalon.
Let the Games Begin!
Oh! And Merry Xmas everyone!! 🙂
P.S.: Thanks to Clever Move Games, Rachel Kremer Xmasy pic!
P.P.S.: If you need something to read during a flight or a drowsy afternoon, try our blog posts from interviews to opinion & advice articles.
Swords for Hire Development (Jacob W. Michaels and Mikko Kallio) is excited to announce its first project, The Villain Codex. This PDF, being done in conjunction with Outland Entertainment, will feature a series of antagonists for gamemasters to pit against their players. The NPCs will be fully fleshed out, with stat blocks, letting a GM simply drop one into an adventure when he needs a statted-up opponent or build an adventure or even campaign around.
The first Villain Codex will feature 12 opponents of CRs 3-8 for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Finished villains will be 600 words, including a stat block and a description of the villain, his/her motivations, plus potential plots, lairs and minions.
Right now, we’re looking for your best ideas. Send us a pitch that describes your villain and potential plots, as well as expected build. Please include at the top the villain’s name, race (please use core races only), gender, alignment and class. Also please include what CR you think the villain should be; a range of CRs is fine at this point, and we can assign what we would like you to build him/her at if we pick your submission. Finally, remember that the villains should be setting agnostic. If they use a bar as their headquarters, feel free to name it, but don’t put it in a city in an existing campaign world.
We expect to pick six villains, though obviously if we’re bowled over, we could select more. We’ll be approaching designers to produce the other six villains, so if your pitch is good enough, it could lead to more work immediately.
How do I submit?
Please send your pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org with your submission in the file (NOT as an attachment).
How many pitches can I submit?
You can submit up to 3 pitches. If you have more good ideas, save them. There will be follow-up Villain Codexes for higher CRs coming through 2016.
If I submit, will I get published?
Unfortunately, not necessarily. We’re including 12 villains in this first Codex, so only the best selections will get published. Any pitches that are accepted become property of Swords for Hire Development, which retains sole ownership.
What books will I be able to use?
Villains will be limited to rules from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, GameMastery Guide, Advanced Player’s Guide, Ultimate Magic, Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Equipment, Ultimate Campaign and Advanced Class Guide.
Will I get paid?
We’ll be paying a flat rate of $6 per entry that we publish, which will work out to about 1 cent per word.
Alright, I’m ready to get started! When you do you need this by?
Pitches are due by the end of the day (Eastern time) May 1. We’ll get back to you and let you know if your pitch has been accepted within a week and will need your finished villain by June 1. Payment will be received at this time.
Wait, I have more questions!
For more information stop by the Sword for Hire blog.
Before I purchased my first miniature, my concept of tabletop RPG “bling” was best evidenced by my collection of gaming accessories. With a total value of $4.62, this collection consisted of four items: an 80-page college bound spiral notebook, with several pages of unfinished homework in the front; a yellow #2 pencil, with a complete set of dental imprints; and a set of polyhedral dice, minus the d12. It was with this paltry arsenal that I marched– uphill both ways, to the best of my recollection – into my earliest gaming sessions.
Perhaps this is why the sudden acquisition of 162 unpainted miniatures came as such a shock.
Finding oneself buried in an avalanche of miniatures isn’t an overnight phenomenon. Having traded my collection of Magic the Gathering cards – their value today, I don’t care to think about – for a box full of tattered rule books and modules, the concept of using miniatures didn’t exist for me until 1991. That was the year I purchased the Dungeons & Dragons Black Box (my first store-bought RPG). Filled with a collection of stand up paper miniatures and a full-color map, it was somewhat of a short-lived revelation. While it provided some opportunities for tactical combat, it had limited use beyond a few short sessions.
While my first encounter with miniatures was lackluster, my second was awe-inspiring. Delivered into my subconscious through a full-page advertisement in Dragon magazine, this was the first time that I had heard of Dwarven Forge (Master Maze at the time). Fortunately for me at the time, painted resin terrain wasn’t something that I could purchase, even irresponsibly (despite a generous on-and-off allowance). The advertisement faded from my memory well before I had disposable income to waste (That’s a figure of speech. It isn’t a waste, it is awesome.).
Then Dwarven Forge had their first Kickstarter campaign.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to purchase two “Dream Toys” from my childhood. The first was a high-end Traxxis radio-controlled car. The second was Dwarven Forge terrain. Since I didn’t own any miniatures at the time, the second came with an (extremely) bourgeois, (embarrassingly) first-world problem… which brings me back to the sudden acquisition of 162 unpainted miniatures, and the fact that I’ll need to learn how to paint miniatures.
Since the Reaper Bones 2 Kickstarter is responsible for the sudden influx of of miniatures (that’s right, it is Reaper’s fault, not mine), I’ll be starting with advice from their website on supplies, and painting advice from someone who survived the first Bones Kickstarter. I’ll be compiling a collection of other resources, from tutorials to painting services, from the perspective of a complete beginner here as I attempt to paint, purchase, or otherwise procure a collection of miniatures for my Dwarven Forge terrain.
Tabletop roleplaying games face a multitude of barriers in any attempt to be taken seriously as an art form. The first of these barriers is reaching an audience wide enough that critics outside of the tabletop RPG community will argue their status. What We Can Learn from Video Games: Tabletop Roleplaying Games as Art discussed several approaches to expanding the medium to reach a larger audience. Here are four tabletop RPGs that have expanded the medium
Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game
Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game is set in the fictional worlds of Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber. Mechanics for the Amber DRPGs conflict resolution involves comparing four attributes –Safety, Strength, Endurance, Warfare–the highest attribute wins. Removing the randomness of dice rolls increased the level or roleplaying in the system, shifting focus away from conflict and towards what leads to those conflicts.
Prince Valiant: the Storytelling Game
Prince Valiant: the Storytelling Game was written by Greg Stafford as a game for novice players. Based upon the Prince Valiant comics and published in 1989 by Chaosium, its simple rules and art design also made it a game that was accessible to younger players. Significantly focused on the narrative aspects of roleplaying, Prince Valiant used only two attributes and a selection of skills that ranged from agilty to alchemy.. Differentiating itself from other narrative games Prince Valiant utilized these attributes and skills for both simple and complex resolution rules.
Dogs in the Vineyard
Dogs in the Vineyard is a narrative RPG that utilizes game mechanics to explore characters beliefs and desires when faced with questions of morality. Written by D Vincent Baker, the award-winning RPG places characters in an imagined frontier setting based (loosely) on the early years the LDS Church in the west. Mechanics for town creation helped create moral frameworks for characters to interact with, inserting a morality into the game that set the system apart.
Dread is a horror RPG that uses a simple mechanic that, when one considers the game’s theme, is exceedingly elegant. Winner of the 2006 Ennie Award for Innovation it is sometimes referred to as “the Jenga RPG.” Dread requires players to pull blocks from a Jenga tower as a form of action resolution. Mirroring the progression of horror films, the fear of players increases as the game progresses, eventially leading to the characters deaths.
These series of posts will discuss tabletop roleplaying games as a medium for artistic expression. The first article in the series can be found here: Why Roleplaying Games “Don’t Get No Respect” The second article in this series can be found here: What We Can Learn from Video Games: Tabletop Roleplaying Games as Art.