Friday, September 5, 2014

RPG Video Funhouse: This Imaginary Life, Kingdom, Microscope

Here are some recent RPG videos I posted or participated in. 

Rich Rogers, of the Canon Puncture podcast, Indie+ and a host of other things, asked me back for another "This Imaginary Life" round-table.  This episode's part of Let Us Game (LUG Con), the online gaming convention. I like Rich's description of this as "Car Talk" for RPGs. This time we rap about building an rpg group- which might be a little different than it sounds. We debate/bounce around the concept of "tuning" your rpg group. Why would you do that? How would you go about making those choices? What are the pitfalls involved? It's a great topic because it brings in issues of player/GM dissatisfaction, social negotiation at the table, and practical concerns about finding players. We also touch on a couple of questions from viewers at the end. 

Earlier this week I posted a game seed I put together for Kingdom, based on Gareth Rider-Hanrahan's series pitch from Blood on the Snow. In it players take the role of faction leaders and key persons in a city "liberated" from the rule of an evil archmage. Our customization made the question of "liberation" even more ambiguous than I'd first pictured. I enjoyed the session, but I stumbled over rules and sped through a couple places where it would have been worth slowing down. Importantly I forgot that we needed to connect our Wish/Fear with the Crossroads resolution after each round. What's interesting is how much this game turned on the last thirty minutes. One player's push and framing forced others to negotiate and find solutions. That required communication to really get at what that character wanted. I think that's awesome and reveals the power of the Touchstone role in Kingdom, which can often seem like the least potent. This event was also part of LUG Con. 

On Wednesday we did another session of Microscope, this time to set up the background for a 13th Age campaign. As with the session I did on Saturday, I used a slightly streamlined version of the rules which subs Questions for Scenes. We made another shift based on the structures of 13th Age itself. In that fantasy game, players establish connections to powerful forces or persons in the world, called Icons. These figures help define the world. I've written before about how cool and useful the Icon concept is for fantasy settings. So during this world-building session of Microscope, I had the players come up with Icons. They did this in place of the normal end-of-round Legacy picks. Next week I'll post the full write-up of the history the group built, as well as the full group of Icons for the setting. The video above mostly consists of scrolling through the document, so the audio's probably enough if you want to hear how a Microscope session plays out. 

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