Wednesday September 14, 2011- Going Beyond Player Buy In; Take Out a Mortgage

Posted September 14, 2011 by phlophouse
Categories: Dresden Files RPG, Gamemaster, Table Top RPG

Tags: , , , , ,

Continuing my thoughts about the Dresden Files RPG having Mini-GMs instead of players, today I am mentioning real game mechanics that places players into the role of Game Master.

I am an abstract thinker; I like starting with a bigger picture and then moving down into details.  The Dresden Files RPG is set up in the way I think.  Its starts with the abstracts and then moves into specifics, but the great thing about this are that the players are included from the start.  The first gaming session is devoted to creating the campaign, no prep work from the GM other than figuring when and where to play.  Once the group is gathered, then City Creation begins-not character creation.  The group collectively agrees to what the world will be about and where it takes place.  The idea is that the group figures out the setting that will mesh with what they want the themes to be.  From there the group moves to locations, allies, enemies, and the like.  By the end of this process, not only do you have a flushed out setting; but also, everyone knows it and contributed to it. 

How often as a GM, do you create a setting with a five page background that nobody really reads?  Here the group has made that five page background together.  In the gaming community there is talk about “player buy in.”  This is when the players accept the believability of story and invest their own interests into that story.  With the Dresden files, the group does not have to buy into the GM’s creation because the group has invested into it before they even make their characters.  This process elevates a player to something closer to a GM than most games.


Tuesday September 13, 2011-You are not a player but rather a Mini-GM

Posted September 13, 2011 by phlophouse
Categories: Dresden Files RPG, Gamemaster, Table Top RPG

Tags: , , , ,

For the pass week I have been struggling to understand and accept how the Fate System within the Dresden Files places a large amount of character control into the GM’s hands.  As I pour over the pages and consider various options, I am realizing that there are some checks and balances between the players and Game Master.  These mechanics allow a more communal story allowing for plenty of gray area for everyone to exert their interest within the story.  This week I am going to address them. 


A New Approach to Actual Play

I have come to believe that the best way to approach the Dresden Files RPG is that everyone is a GM; there is one major Game Master and everyone else are Mini-GMs.  Forget being a player; forget being spoon fed your environment; forget the narrow affect you have on everything within the story; from now on you have the meta-game perspective beyond the solitary action that a character has.   You are no longer a mere serf within the game; but rather a Duke who acknowledges a King.   The Fate System allows a mere player to rise up a level to share more control.  There are several reasons to make this approach.

The most sublime reason for this attitude is that there is hardly any distinction between NPCs actions and Players actions.  Anything a GM can do to a character can also be done to one of their characters.  There are no special stat blocks for just “monsters” nor are there any special moves or actions that a GM can do that a Player cannot do.   Essentially, every character within the story (NPC or PC) has their own goals and the same system to obtain those goals.   Miss Scarlett can initiate a scene where she wants to manipulate Dresden into favoring her, this would be done through placing an aspect on Harry—there is a risk with skill rolls; but she is creating the scene for that roll.  Likewise, Harry can try to do the same thing to Miss Scarlett.  Furthermore, the results are not dictated by the GM, but rather the winner with some agreement from the group.   

Wednesday September 7, 2011-Share the World, Share you Character

Posted September 8, 2011 by phlophouse
Categories: D20, Dresden Files RPG, Gamemaster, Table Top RPG

Tags: , , , ,

Over the last month, I have been working on a Dresden Files campaign for my older brother.  I have to admit that I am finding many of my GMing habits need to change with this indie game.  Although I have played several different RPGs; today, I realized that all of them have been one-shots.  I have never run a campaign with an indie system.  Despite all the little changes, which I might address later; I feel that there is one large encompassing abstract issue that I am struggling with; the illusion of control.  Control over what, you might ask? Well, everything. 

Being one of the disgruntled old-school gamers from the early 80’s, I have always been looking for new innovative games that went beyond the dungeon crawl.  Matter of fact, part of the reason I started GMing was to figure out a way to play something more than just hack n’ slash.  Being an unhappy product of the old-school, I advocated player control and anti-railroading by the GM.  I wanted players to contribute more to the adventure; because as a player, I felt that I was not allowed to contribute much.  Back then, I had to figure out what the GM thought was the right answer, instead of having any other options. 

As I delve deeper into the Fate System, I am beginning to realize that the GM has much more control over the Player’s character.  True, players have their own systems to create elements within the world; however, with the way Fate slings aspects around, I am noticing that a GM has a direct way to tweak characters.  A GM for D&D only had to throw monsters and traps at characters, GMs that had heavy-handed and extreme consequences where considered dicks-Never touch a golden duck you just know something bad is going to happen.   With the Fate system I can inflict several different aspects onto a character; like “Afraid of Colonel Mustard” or “Miss Scarlett Always Sounds Right.”  The amazing thing is that it is completely okay within the system.  I feel a slight conflict of motives here. 

I guess it is a little ironic that the first real indie campaign I am running allows the players to share the story with the GM, but also allows the GM to share the character with the players. 


Tuesday September 6, 2011-An Confession towards a Messy Break-up

Posted September 6, 2011 by phlophouse
Categories: Table Top RPG

I had a messy break-up back in April.  I ended my long-term relationship with D20 Star Wars Saga Edition.  Like any long-term relationship, there is that bewildering mix of pain, lost, and relief.  Sure, I was unhappy with lots of things that Saga Edition did; yet I had so much already invested; fourteen books, hundreds of minis, reams of written material, and all the office supplies.  Yes, those wonderful office supplies.  The crisp white printing paper that you could swear smelled like ditto paper from grade school.  The multitude of colored index cards that spoke of all the many potential things. The pencils and pens that felt like they were part of your hand as you danced across the page.  Rolls of map paper that I could put so many details on.  Saga Edition did so much like her things. 

But like so many over demanding lovers, there were times when I needed a reprieve and sought solace in the arms of simpler game systems.  Games that were happy that I was just there.  Zombie Cinema was always willing for a fling, never expecting a call the next day.  Mouse Guard or Apocalypse World were so less demanding, yet underneath they still desired commitment.  I must confess that these affairs did not provide the momentary relief I had hoped for; but instead, only deepened my resentment towards my relationship with Saga Edition. 

Four months later, you might expect that I would be in bed with one of the others.  No, I am not.  Although there was some speculation, these other relationships had change with my new found liberty, with no clear explanation or understanding as to why.  Instead, I have found a new relationship with the Fate System with all the promise and hope that new found loves have.  Dare not one of you mention rebounds.


Friday September 2, 2011 Moments of Dread Conclusion

Posted September 2, 2011 by phlophouse
Categories: gaming spouses, Table Top RPG

Two months ago, I made an over indulgent dice purchase; spending $3.75 per die.  I am a frugal man, preferring to gain as much value for my purchases.  I rarely make impulse buys, taking time to think, budget, and research.   It took a month of mental debate for me to buy the Dresden Files and another month to decide to buy Fudge Dice for it. I harass my fiancé all the time about her purchases being costly and wasteful.   So, when I spent $30.00 for eight dice, I figured that she would definitely question the wisdom of my choice; after all, I was still questioning it.  

I told her what I did as soon as she came home.  In these situations, I usually start off with a combination of confession, apology, and understanding that I expected her to be upset with my action.  This long winded explanation will be cut off when her patience runs out and she point blankly asks “what did you get?”  This conversation was no different; except, she laughed at the end, when I told her what I got.  Surprised and puzzled, I asked her what was going on.

Her answer was “I find it so funny whenever you make a big deal over something you buy.  You make it sound so dreadful and it’s always under fifty bucks; compared to me that’s nothing.   Oooooh nooo, you spent $15 on Star Wars Miniatures, oooooooh noooo you spent $19 on office supplies for gaming.  AHAHAHA.  I never worry about money YOU spend. ”

September 1, 2011Thursday- Gaming Season is Opening

Posted September 1, 2011 by phlophouse
Categories: Table Top RPG

Hello everyone,

It’s the unofficial end of summer and all too soon we will be rationalizing our indoors habits to avoid the cold instead of the heat.  Our more outdoor friends will be coming back from the renaissance fairs and any large scale LARPing wars; to once again, settle down at a table and play make-believe in a structure format.  That’s right my fellow pen and paper RPGers, the gaming season is about to start.  This should not conflict with the football season; because most of us geeks simply do not watch football.  The ones who do are just trying to rebels.

So, with all due respect; lets get this season underway. 

July 21, 2011 Thursday- My Moments of Dread

Posted July 21, 2011 by phlophouse
Categories: Table Top RPG


I just got off of Amazon and my bank card is sweating.   My fiancé is on her way home and it is filling me with trepidation.  I have committed a crime and I know it is just a matter of time before I am caught.  I pace, so I do not panic.  There is neither way I can deigned what I have done nor lie in some fashion shift the responsibility.  I can hope that she will not notice, but that is a fool’s hope.  She will notice the bank statement charge, perhaps tonight or tomorrow; if neither, then by the end of the week. 

I just spent thirty dollars on eight dice and I would be appalled if I had heard of anyone doing the same.  That is $3.75 per die, the extravagance and wastefulness.  That is like feeding a twenty to a dog because it’s cute to see her beg.  Jesus, use singles if it is that important to you!  If I am feeling that level of lavish and imprudence, what will my fiancé think? She is not even a gamer, is there even a chance of her understanding? No, to make matters worse; this is the type of expenditure I would reprimand her for.  Oh, the days of grumbling I will have to suffer.  Paybacks. 

There comes a time within a man’s life where a single moment is filled with dread.  That dread causes them to look at the low road, to consider it and where it leads to.  They ponder who they really are; a coward or a man.  Do you have the integrity to accept the fate that you have created or can live with the duplicity to escape it?  She will be here in less than an hour and all I can really do is confess.  Confess and hope for mercy.  Confess and accept my fate like a man.