Episode 2

by Brian on August 19, 2006

We’re back with a second episode, talking about the deluge of products on the market today, some of the challenges in running sci-fi vs. fantasy roleplaying games, and rounding out with a review of White Wolf’s new release, “Tales from the 13th Precinct“, for the new World of Darkness.

Liner Notes & Links

Dedication / Memorial to Britt Daniel [0:36]
The Deluge of Products [4:40]
Fantasy vs SF settings [16:30]
Review: Tales from the 13th Precinct [28:40]
Next Episode and Goodbye [36:14]

Indie Press Revolution
Dogs in the Vineyard
Mortal Coil
Traveller
Tales from the 13th Precinct

This episode dedicated to the memory of our friend Britt Daniel.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Fulkerguy August 19, 2006 at 4:48 pm

Another great show guys. I am really loving this podcast. My buddy went out and bought True 20 thanks to your endorsment and we are loving that book. We are working on doing a small Mecha Vs. Kaiju adventure soon. Hopefully with all the bad dubs and kung-fu action we love.

As for the topics at hand. I agree there is a lot of product coming out lately but I am enjoying it. I admit I still havent put together or painted my warmachine stuff I have had for two years, but I am looking forward to a demo of Infinity this tuesday at Endgame. I also play L5R CCG and RPG, grabbed Dogs in the vineyard and like we said True 20. Hell even a freind of mine back from college has me interested in dusting off my Dark Eldar for Warhammer 40K again. The hard part is finding time for it all.

I am in a weekly Exalted game at the moment but that has been having difficulties with schedual due to vacations and work changes. I have been trying to start up a few games of either L5R RPG, Iron kingdoms, or Dogs in the vineyard but can’t because too many of my players are involved with other games at the moment. So while it is great to see a lot of varied prodects and things everyone is interested in finding the time for it all can be trouble.

As to to the second topic of discussion. I generaly dislike fantasy settings. However the advantage to them that comes from years and years of built upon commonality is useful. I know from my own experience of trying to play in an Alternity game a few years back that its the small things that can ruin a Sci-fi game. When I asked the GM how I would pay for lunch with a contact of mine he told me it would be taken care of with an RFID chip in my hand as I waved it at a scanner wen the waiter brought me the check. Well this started a several hour discussion about security, economics and ease of use. In the end the game fell apart after that over something as simple as money and paying for a meal.

I think that before you start a game it is best to try and hash out these details with the players by doing some writing on the background of the world or universe your game is taking place in. Mention a lot of the day to day things because this is where the charecters will be starting from before moving on into the plot of the game. After you have this handout or notes done gather your prospective players together. Give them a short lecture of what you have written, or have them read over the hand out, and then let them start asking queastions. Believe me your players minds will come up with queastions you would never even imagine being relevent to the game but in the end it is those little details, and answers you can give, that bring a charecter and a world alive.

-Robert

P.S. Hey Brian I am still waiting for that e-mail for the Iron Kingdoms conversion we were talking about at endgame.

Brian August 19, 2006 at 7:07 pm

Robert – Glad you\’re enjoying the podcast, and thanks much for adding your comments on the episodes topics!
Obviously, I\’m really pleased you\’re enjoying True 20 – always nice to hear people agree with a review or we turn them onto a new game.  And sorry about the delay on forwarding the conversion. Your in-basket should have something to take care of that now. 😉

Your point on detail is right on the mark, especially with regards to \”what\’s an average day like?\”.  Some of the more esoteric rpgs I\’ve seen stumble here, because I can\’t get a clear feel of what life is like in WhereEverVille.

Finn August 22, 2006 at 8:20 pm

I’m 100% in agreement with you guys about the “too many games” issue. I feel that pain keenly since I’m primarily a miniatures gamer. It takes a lot of assembling and painting just to start a minis game, much less get seriously into it. I’ve dealt with it by just paring down the number of games I play. WARMACHINE is the only minis game I play anymore – no Flames of War, no Battletech, no Warhammer Fantasy. I’m in a weekly d20 Future campaign and a bi-monthly IK campaign. That’s it. I just can’t manage to keep any more than that in my head.

Ouro August 29, 2006 at 1:09 pm

You guys may not be aware that you got a shout-out from Julian Murdoch in his article “612 Lawns” at http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/26703
“”Science Fiction is hard. As our friends-in-spirit at _2d6_feet_ posited recently, it’s harder because of the details. Fantasy worlds have extensive shorthand.””

Julian Murdoch August 29, 2006 at 1:34 pm

Hey guys,

I linked to this audio report in my latest piece at GamersWithJobs. Thanks for the good ideas.

http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/26703

Grimm August 30, 2006 at 10:46 am

Neat show guys.
My two cents regarding running Science Fiction settings. I’ve been running a weekly table for well over three years now and in that period I’ve gone through two settings and have just started on the third. I myself am much more comfortable running modern and future games (All of my games have been in such settings). I’m not entirely sure why this is, but I would speculate that a good part of the success of my campaigns is based on the amount of flavour and description I put into any given encounter or scene. I find starting off each game with a short narrative which is either part of a metagame story which the characters are involved in, or a ‘cinematic’ account of the actions the group have just completed really assists in getting all the players on the same page. For example – the newest campaign I’m running starts off with a sort of intro where the players get to find out about the planet they’re on through the eyes of someone who just crash landed there. Sights, smells, colours, the inhabitants. By doing a sort of first person walkthrough in the eyes of an NPC I can help set the tone for when they begin play. In addition this character is clearly on a mission which will impact the player characters and likely directly conflict with them at some point, so they get a chance to see through the eyes of an potential enemy. I make extensive use of this cinematic narrative in order to both build interest and suspense and provide setting detail, starting each session off with a little more flavour about the world the game is taking place on.
I’m sure other people out there use this sort of technique, and I know I’ve seen it used for fantasy campaigns I’ve been in, but I think this sort of thing is even more important for Science Fiction settings. It’s another method of tying the world together and giving the players detail without making them read a sourcebook worth of background material. It’s also a boon to do extensive in-game descriptions of equipment/locations/characters and a tonne of encounter preparation (I’ve done more “homework” for each session of my sci-fi setting than I did for most of a semester of university level history).
I would definitly agree that a really enjoyable and enduring Science Fiction and Cyberpunk setting can be much more difficult for all involved than a Fantasy setting, but the reward can be amazing. Scenes with the characters battling monstrous cyborg soldiers while trying to escape a sinking carrier, retrieving a stolen prototype robot from a group of high tech mercenaries, or the thrill of a high speed chase through the twisted spires of a far future arcology are just a few of my personal favorite rpg moments…
In any case, great show guys. Keep up the good work.

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