So I'm blowing the dust of the Gaming Knack blog. At Pheno just gone, Mister Smith got to talking with some folk, and kicked off a discussion at the RPG Opinions Facebook group. Facebook is great for discussions, but blogs are great for records and the ongoing existence thing. Besides: freeforming is something that happens at Aussie cons that doesn't really have an equivalent elsewhere. And we like that.
The plan is to record the discussion starter posts, and then put up a summary of discussion. I've no objection to people chatting here, but I'm deliberately lagging behind the FB discussion so as not to - ha! - split the party.
So this is the summary of the plan: Post Zero, by the Intrepid Mr Smith.
Andrew's notes from Pheno 2015 post-con drinkies, and some groundrules for the discussion.
At Pheno this year I became interested in this premise: that freeform
writers present the games they want to play in themselves. I thought to
test this over soothing beverages at post-con drinkies, and discovered
that I talked to too few people, and there was waaay more to talk about
than could be accomplished in one evening. I did take notes.
what I hope to do here is to supply my notes (with minimal
reformatting), and propose that we go through the sections at a rate of
one per week. Hopefully this will help keep things mostly on-topic — and
if the discussion looks to touch on topics that will come up later,
keep them till that week.
Three other suggestions. Firstly, I
want to talk about freeforms, and specifically the pre-written
characters, short-run ones that we do at cons, rather than tabletops or
other forms of game. I did have a note about campaign freeforms, so I'm
happy to see them referenced or used as contrast, but they are not the
Secondly, everybody I talked to was passionate
about the form. This is awesome. People were passionate about different
bits, and had quite different preferences. I suspect we have an elephant
problem here, and we don't even know if we have just one elephant. So I
am not looking to find a One True Way towards con freeforms: it may
even be an imaginary elephant. I would be immensely happy for this
discussion to lead to a set of perceptions and tools that will help all
of us build better freeforms, in some format or other.
Thirdly, I'm happy to add notes/points to the sections, and if you have a really good idea for a section, to add sections.
Rich world vs shared improv creation
Interact with world vs closed box
Open-ended vs defined end-point
Internal consistency, establishing setting conventions
PC actions impact on setting
Established settings vs new ones
Established: select engaged players, shared tropes/roles, but differing interpretations
New: freedom from unwelcome expectations but difficulty of consensus, sharing 'enough' info
Variant established - best of all worlds?
Styles of play
Families/factions/teams - the rule of 4: self, enemy, friend, mystery
Politics/intrigue vs relationships vs investigation vs the world
Romance can be tricky
"In the deep end" - the big decision: GM ends the world
On rails vs open ending
Con vs ongoing/campaign
'Hard' SF: unplayable?
Space opera: Dune, Fading Suns, Jupiter Ascending, 40K
Fantasy - modern, 'historical' (e.g. Gaslight, 7th Sea), high fantasy,
Actual period - regency, musketeers, Imperial Rome
Horror (as opposed to dark fantasy) - contemporary/normality
Military - ship crews
Resources: circulation vs sink
Implied vs gamified
Dealing with PvP and PvE
Death and other sanctions
How many GMs?
Making things obvious to the player - clear role (e.g. head/diplo/mil)
BUT just enough detail
Using language to depict the world and suggest character
Where is the fun?
What do you care about? Goals/objectives, opinions, questions
Links to other characters: like vs need
Reactive vs proactive character choices
Golden bridge of retreat - no lose face
Models for characters being less appropriate literary models (hero, villain, chorus)
Problem characters: the guy everyone hates, the assassin, the not-what-it-says-on-the-tin
"Significant-other friendly" characters
"Deception" character sheet (cover sheet?)
Playing the game
Own your character
Adding to the fun of others
Secrets and resources
Mechanics - you (and everyone else) are allowed to use the system
Back in the early 90s, there was an attempt to put together a glossary for Australian Convention Roleplaying. Given it's 20 years later,...
There’s a lot of us vs. theming going on at the moment in my world, for a wide variety of “us” and “them”, rather than join in I thought I w...
I'm going to share the best piece of gaming advice I've ever recieved. The present form originates in Houses of the Blooded , and ha...
I was going to respond to J.'s post, but I realised that (a) I was responding to a tangential issue and (b) I can post here too. So I ...
I'm presenting, with my go-GM, a game at the Pheno convention this weekend. Having just come up with some elements that make up a good...