jaegamer: (Light)
It was less than 24 hours from false report to true.  :: sniffle ::

I knew Dave, not well enough to call him a friend or even acquaintance, though I flatter myself that he might recognize me.  He was only six years older than I am now.  The First Generation is passing far too rapidly.

From the family:
Shortly after 11pm on Tuesday, April 7th, Dave Arneson passed away. He was comfortable and with family at the time and his passing was peaceful.

The Arneson family would like to thank everyone for their support over the last few days, and for the support the entire community has shown Dave over the years.

We are in the process of making final arrangements and will provide additional details as we work them out. We will continue to receive cards and letters in Dave's honor. We are planning to hold a public visitation so that anyone wishing to say their goodbye in person has the opportunity to do so.

Cards and letters can continue to be sent:
Dave Arneson
1043 Grand Avenue
Box #257
St. Paul, MN

Visitation will be on April 20th
Time: yet to be determined
Bradshaw Funeral Home
687 Snelling Avenue South
St. Paul, MN 55105
And the best eulogy I've read yet, from Ken Hite's Out of the Box column:

Dave Arneson invented this column.

Dave Arneson invented the reason you read this column.

Dave Arneson invented the reason the website that hosts this column exists.

Dave Arneson invented "armor class." He invented "hit points." He invented the "cleric." He invented the "dungeon." He invented "so, last week you cleaned out the dungeon, and now you've heard about another, even scarier dungeon, over the ridge there." He invented "everyone plays one guy, and I play all the monsters."

Dave Arneson co-invented Dungeons & Dragons.

Dave Arneson invented role-playing games.

On a personal note, he was a friendly, generous person who genuinely liked games and gamers; seeing him at a convention, or a store appearance, was always a delight - for me, for the fans, and (as far as I could tell) for him. I had the good fortune to talk to him a lot at various shows; he was a demigod adept at playing a mere tenth-level game designer, or  first-level fan, but he also liked hanging out and talking about the Civil War, or his students, or what was going on in my life.

I first met him at GenCon 1997, right after Wizards took over TSR. He was sitting alone, near the Wizards booth, wearing a badge but otherwise inconspicuous. Certainly, there should have been throngs of worshipers bestrewing his lap with rose petals, or a shaft of light from the Fifth Heaven, or an honor guard of bugbears, or something. But I got to shake his hand and thank him for inventing my spare time, and my career.

And now he has leveled up.

jaegamer: (Cry)
ErikErick Wujcik died Saturday from pancreatic cancer.  He was 57, and my heart is breaking.  We were not close friends, but he played a pivotal role in my early gaming, and he was always a joy to talk with.  His contributions to the industry are many, and you can check the links for them.

I will remember Erick best as he appears in this photo, with his leather cap and a quizzical, challenging expression on his face.  He was one of the first people I met when I started gaming in the wide world.  He was running a small con in the Detroit area (maybe 40 people) and I was the only woman there.  I had a tremendously fun time, and found Erick funny, welcoming and full of ideas that were new to me.  Before that, "gaming" meant D&D - after, I realized how much more there could be.

Erick continued to challenge my mind and open my eyes with seminars on “How to Win at RPGs” on being a better player, and in general as a GM how to understand your world on a macro level so you can improvise on a micro level.  Erick used Zen koans to help illustrate, and while they made perfect sense at the time, I've never been able to understand or remember them well enough to share with others.  His philosophies of gaming, though, I embraced and made my own.  He started me on the road to enlightenment as a gamer, and growth as a human being.

The world is a lesser place for his loss, and a greater world for his contributions.  I will miss him sorely.

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! (Hamlet)
jaegamer: (GOD)
Ok, GameCraft is fantastic. I've put it in my link list, and will be checking it out in greater depth from home. Please credit GameCraft if you pass this along.

Getting Feedback - Repeat, Clarify, Probe

First, ask specific questions. Were the scenes and encounters too hard? Too easy? Too long? Did they feel railroaded, did they feel 'adrift'? Stuff like that.

Second, repeat what they tell you. When they answer a question, put it in your own words, and ask if that's what they meant, just to make sure you're understanding clearly.

Third, probe for details. That is, ask about various little bits of what they said that seem to be leading somewhere. The dragon wasn't too tough, just a bit simple. What struck you as "simple"?

Fourth, clarify. Recap everything you've learned by asking. Thank the players for their feedback, and pay attention to it. The players are telling you not only how their priorities were served, but what those priorities are. Try to look at their answers in light of what they are telling you is important about the game.
jaegamer: (GOD)
This, by Levi, an admin at GameCraft,  is so simply perfect that I'm quoting it entire - please credit GameCraft!  I don't mind when people quote from my LJ, but it's only polite to credit.  In this case, this is NOT my original content, but it's so very good that I want to share it.  While you're at it, you might want to check out GameCraft in general.

1. Come For A Good Time
If your primary goal at the table is something other than having an experience you enjoy, and that others can enjoy with you, you should be doing something else. Generally speaking, that means having fun. Sometimes it might be more specific - crafting a satisfying story together, or having the experience of seeing things from the perspective of your character, either in addition to or instead of classically fun stuff. But if what you want when you sit down at the table on any given night isn’t enjoyable to you, or does not allow enjoyment for others, do not sit down at that table. Not gaming is better than bad gaming.

2. This Is Your Gamespace, These Are Real People.
Accept and understand that the players around you are real people that are also here to have fun. Nobody comes to the table to watch one player discuss their personal character’s stuff with the GM when it could wait, or to watch two players crack inside jokes at each other and exclude everyone else. Nobody comes to the table to be treated to the personal aroma of another player, or to closely observe their food being chewed. Nobody hosts a game hoping for a marathon cleanup session at the end. Nobody comes to the table to be the ego-boosting kick-toy of anyone else. Never, ever, forget that you are playing the game with real people.

3. Accept Responsibility
Taking the same point as #2, and bringing it into the game - what you do at the gaming table is your responsibility, and you should accept this. What others do is their responsibility, and they should accept that, too. This absolutely includes what you decide that your character does. This absolutely includes the actions of the GM as world. If playing your character as written could very well interfere with the fun of others, you need to decide where to go with that – it’s your call, though; excuses are lame. If you ruin the game by playing your character or the world ‘correctly’, then you still ruined the game.

4. Give Feedback
Anything from telling the GM “I had a good game tonight” to “here’s ten specific moments of play I really liked, and ten moments I really didn’t”, can help. For the GM, telling the players what they loved about their play, and what they found dull, works the same way. The GM can’t read the minds of the players here (or anywhere else), and the players don’t know what’s going on internally for the GM either. Unless they tell each other. This doesn’t need to be formal – in fact, it seems that it often works best if it isn’t. But the clearer it is, the better; and it’s often good to get a quick idea of this stuff before you start.

5. Share Creativity
No one person at the table has full control over what happens in the game. If someone does, you get some really boring shit. At the very least, a player generally controls most of one character in the game. There are an infinite number of little variants on how the GM and the players share control over who gets to put stuff in, and things work best once the group hits a level of input from each person at the table that they’re comfortable with. Find that level. If you’re looking for ways to muck about with that level of input, there are quite a few ways to do that.

6. Seek Consensus
The people at your table have, if your game is actually running at all, a consensus. The ideas in their heads of what the game is and does match up well enough to produce good play. Sometimes a group will hit on little moments when their ideas just don’t match up, and they’ll need to talk about what this specific thing looks like in their heads and agree on one way to go about it. Once in a while, one of the people at the table will want to bring something in that they aren’t sure will match up with what the others have in their heads, and it’s a good idea for them to mention that before they do.

7. Negotiate Honestly
When problems come up in your group, the first step is to make sure that everyone at the table is onboard with at least the basic ideas of the first five things here – they don’t have to be “skilled” at these things; being onboard is plenty. If they aren’t, I don’t really have any good advice for you – for myself, I likely wouldn’t play with them for much longer. If they are, and you still have a problem, then it’s time to sort that out. Now, my own recommendations on doing that are below, but they aren’t really ‘polished’ and they’re kind of artificial; if you’ve got any ideas on that, I’m really interested. But here’s another standard saying that ties into this – it’s usually a very bad idea to try and solve out-of-character problems with in-game events. That’s dishonest, and doesn’t generally work. Also, using the rules to ‘punish’ your players or ‘get back’ at your GM? Same thing.

8. Consider Your Options.
When someone makes an attempt to alter 'your part' of the fiction - the world if you're the GM, your character if you're a player, you have choices. You can simply agree, or disagree; you can put it to the mechanics, you can modify what they’ve stated and give it back to them. Limiting your options in this case is silly; most advice to limit these options in a ‘positive’ way comes from a desire to keep the energy of the game high, or allow for trust between players above and beyond the basic average; those are good goals, but instead of using limits on yourself and others to achieve them, simply remember that your decisions will affect those things as well as the specific matter at hand.

9. Watch The Spotlight.
At any given instant of play, someone has the spotlight. This doesn’t just mean ‘one person is talking’. It means that if there are a whole string of scenes, one person is usually “center stage”; the scene revolves around their stuff, whether that’s world stuff or character issues or whatever. If that person isn’t you, then you’re a supporting character in that scene; try to play good support, whether that means keeping quiet, offering support or advice, playing up the effects the setting has on your character a bit, whatever. If that person is you, then fill that scene; it’s there for you to step into. If nobody is sure who should have the spotlight, then act as support for each other, until the focus hits. But watch that spotlight, too. If you’re getting more than a fair share, work to make more scenes about other characters. If you’re getting less than your share, then when a scene doesn’t really have a focus, step up and take it. Now, sometimes the players will think that different people are getting too much, or not enough spotlight time – we’re people, it happens. Talk about it; most of the time, whoever’s being a hog or hiding away just needs to know about it - and on those occasions when that isn’t true, work it out.

10. Play the Game At The Game
This is a close partner to sharing creativity. Sometimes, you’ll have an idea about the game before you sit down at the table, about something you’d like to see happen there. Sometimes, you’ll have a whole string of them. That’s good stuff. But when those ideas start to look like a whole storyline, you need to be careful with it. A storyline like that is great raw material, but don’t get too attached; if you get too attached to that storyline, you’ll find yourself pushing to make it happen, and ignoring or working against all the other good ideas and creative input at your table. Remember, at all times; raw material is good. But don’t play the game before it starts – play the game when you’re at the game.

11. Show Your Stuff As You Go.
Almost everybody wants to feel like the fictional world, and the characters in it, are real to them enough to imagine. This is, of course, achieved by describing things. But nobody wants to be bored by drawn-out description, or huge whopping chunks of detail. If the GM rattles of ten facts about the place the characters are standing, only the first few will sink in; likewise if a player does this when describing their character. So, the key is to describe as you go. If a player wants us to know that her character Jill is a graceful woman, she shouldn’t simply tell the group that at character creation; her character should ‘glide’ and ‘move nimbly’ in play – her description at creation need only be a single, vivid image, that she can build on by describing not only what the character does, but how. This works in the same way for the GM; when the characters walk into a abandoned study, it can simply be an old, dusty study, smelling of books; as the characters interact with it, the GM can note the thick books, the puffs of dust as things are moved. One key to a good description that’s often missed is that it starts simple and vivid, and grows as you go, so that it’s never boring.

12. Learn To Speak The Same Language.
This is an ongoing effort that every group needs to make together. Every single person thinks that different phrases and wordings imply slightly different things, and this is one of the biggest things that can knock down even an honest attempt at talking to other people. Your group, to communicate both well and quickly, will sometimes need to hash out things related to this; accept that it’s going to happen and try not to get too serious about a problem until you’re sure this isn’t it.

Feel free to add to this list...
jaegamer: (evil-kitty)
Everyone's seen the RPG motivational posters (and if you haven't, go here...)

Here are Motivational Posters for Villains. :: snicker ::

jaegamer: (GOD)
This is shamelessly pirated, intact, from the Treasure Tables forums.  If you're not reading Treasure Tables (and the forums), you probably should be.  There's less noise and a whole lot more signal than most venues.

Read it for yourself here.

And while I'm sharing links, I use Google Reader as a blog aggregator, and you can see what I'm reading here.
jaegamer: (GOD)
This is a neat-looking idea for building adventures.  I'll take any tool I can get my hands on when I'm creating, and this one has promise.  Haven't tried it  yet, though.

I Waste the Buddha With My Crossbow

Check it out!
jaegamer: (Default)
Most embarrassing moment: 

I have arthritis in my knees, and am horrifically out of shape.  I just can't walk very far without sitting down, and it's hard to get back up off the floor alone.  So... when in the incredibly huge Gencon Dealer's Room, I'm constantly on the lookout for places to sit and rest for a few moments.  Order of the Stick has a board game (musssst haveeeee my preciousssss), and while they were sold out of the game, they were running demos.  I figured I'd sit down for a few minutes and enjoy the demo while resting my cranky knees.

Only... I missed.  I completely missed the flimsy plastic folding chair (which is what the majority of the dealers had - not their fault) and went crashing down onto the floor, bags and all.  I felt myself falling and rolled with it (that Theater degree is good for something, I guess), so the only thing injured was my pride.  I had to lay there on the floor for a few minutes, though, reassuring everyone that I was fine, I just needed a few minutes to pull myself together for the ordeal of standing back up.

I need a t-shirt that says: "Dex is my dump stat".
Edit: Order yours here! Thanks, [profile] wookiee71
jaegamer: (Default)
I actually saw this last week, but since all the cool geeks are sharing it, I think I will too. Fear of Girls is a "mockumentary" about two self-described "elite gamers". It's sad, funny and a little scary. Great googly moogly - please tell me this isn't how others see me in the pursuit of my beloved hobby!

Of course not... right?
jaegamer: (Default)
It was a light weekend for the activity of gaming. Friday's game was cancelled due to the Adam (the GM) and his brother (one of the players) going home for Thanksgiving. Which was, it turned out, a good thing for me.

I love the Friday night game. Even though it's D&D (which I can take or leave), the story is good and the characters mesh just beautifully. Our motto is: Teamwork, Magic and Luck. It is, in short, everything I want a home campaign to be. Thus, I really hate to miss it. I fall behind in EXP, and I miss being part of the story.

On t'other hand, another campaign I play in (this one RPGA's Living Death campaign), is run by a dear friend of mine in Springfield OH (about 4.5 hours from my house). She'll run playtest of a Saturday, and I enjoy participating in those as well. So... I'll finish Adam's game around 1 am, and then drive through the night to Claire's, falling face down in the guest room around 6:30 or 7. Then I get up at 9 and play all day.

I'm really getting to old for this...

Well, this weekend I'd promised to run Ed & his pals through a Living Force trilogy way back in September, as was finally paying up. Thus, the cancellation of the Friday festivities meant I had a reasonable amount of sleep before I headed out to Dayton around 5 am. Then I ran till about 9:30 pm and crashed there for the night.

On Thursday and Friday I put two LF scenarios (much overdue) to bed, and got a good start on a third on Sunday. Friday I had a nice working dinner with my Metagaming lead. So... while I didn't play or run much this weekend, there's no question that my long holiday weekend was chock full of gaming goodness.
jaegamer: (Default)
Of course it is. And... I'm afraid I've reached and/or exceeded that. Lessee...

  • Friday was Adam's home campaign. Always fun, but I was off my game...

  • Saturday was Waterdeep Chronicles CARP's home campaign, where I was theoretically supposed to run. (It was a home football game day, though, so attendance was low.)

  • Saturday evening, I played Living Dragonstar online. The company was great, but I really felt it was a waste of six or so hours of my life (at least, until the ending, which was relatively satisfying). My chums helped me power-up my cleric so that he'll be less useless in the future. (I hates being useless, yet I persist in playing clerics, who are at best support characters.)

  • Sunday I wrote all day, mostly finishing a scenario for Living Force, the RPGA campaign that I run.

  • Monday I ran an online session of Living Force for a group of judges for Gencon SoCal. Till 2 am, no less (most of 'em are in California, after all). I'm tickled that people like the campaign so much that they hate to "eat" a scenario (run it without having had a chance to play it), but dang... where am I to get the time?

  • Tuesday (tonight) is Rick's Adventure! game. I'm looking forward to it, but where am I gonna find the time I need to get Excursion finished and Recursion, Night's Friend, Night's Homecoming, Padawannabes and Way of the Force edited? 'cause those all need to be done by Dec 1st.

Yup. Too much gaming. Nowhere in there do I see anything resembling a normal life...
jaegamer: (Default)
On the good news front... :: happy dance :: I'm going to California for Gencon SoCal on WotC's nickle. I'll be running what they call the "Delve" in the dealer's room -- short adventures with miniatures or action figures to introduce people to the games. Not, mind you, as Living Force campaign director. Nope, I missed that deadline. I was told mid-June to have two new semi-exclusive adventures ready by August 1st if I wanted them to send me. I didn't make the deadline (though not by any fault of the Plots team, who did get me the stuff before Aug 1), so from them it was a no-go. I was very disappointed that there wouldn't be campaign staff at the convention. The West Coast gamers feel that they're overlooked and neglected, and I figured this would only play into that belief. It was, however, out of my hands. At my barely-above-minimum-wage income a plane ticket/hotel for the con was just completely out of reach.

Then Lauri contacted me to see if I could provide any judges for her from the staff runnning Living Force. I told her I would put out the word, and that if she wanted to ship me out there, I'd be happy to run all day every day. And so I am. (grin) I'll have each evening free, and hopefully that will be enough.
jaegamer: (Default)
Gaming is a metaphor for my life; in gaming, I seek the things that fate or my own incompetence have denied me in Real Life(tm).

My least favorite thing in a game is to be useless or redundant. I'm a ham and a spotlight hog, and I want to be sure that I get a chance to make a contribution to the proceedings. My second-least favorite thing would be a game that's composed entirely of out-of-game talk and pointless combats. Those games, I leave.

At the same time, I do have some rudimentary social skills, and I also want the party to work well as a team so that we can succeed at whatever the goal of the scenario is. Unless I'm in one of my bratty moods, I actively try to make sure that everyone gets their shot. When I'm not being totally self-absorbed, a sin I am frequently guilty of.

My biggest frustration in my Real Life(tm) is that I really haven't had much of an impact on the world. Like George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life", I know I've touched some lives, but nothing I've done will make an ounce of difference in 10 years, much less when I'm dead. So... that leaves gaming as my venue to be a hero, to be somebody who makes a difference. True, it still won't make a jot of difference in a month, much less 10 years, but in the imaginary world of the game, I *did* make a difference, and that's enough for me.

Usually I deal with the redundancy problem by having multiple characters (so I can fill whatever hole is in the party), or by making particularly creative use of the skills/abilities my character has. It *frustrates* me, though, to be incompetent. It might be that I'm playing a much lower-level character (or just not as min-maxed and optimized) than the rest of the party, or it might just be that the dice are hating me that night, and I can't seem to *do* anything.

I'll add that to my list -- I dislike games and systems where the dice have a huge impact. There's nothing that spoils an evening of gaming like a run of critically bad dice rolls. I understand and respect the random factor, but in the final estimation I'd rather have the story unfold *in spite* of bad dice than have the whole thing fall into the crapper just because the dice were cold.

Some of that is on the GM, I suppose. It's a line we walk when we run -- the players deserve the respect of being able to shape the story and the world, but, on the other hand, it just sucks to have everything go south because of bad rolls from the NPCs. I've tried to learn to be flexible within my framework. On the one hand, some things *have* to happen, sometimes to the benefit of the characters, sometimes to their detriment. On the other hand, it's no fun to play a puppet in someone's novel.

Jae's #1 rule of GMing is: If you don't want them to screw it up, don't let them roll the dice!

As a player, I like the concept of "hero points", "Force points", and "action dice". I like having something I can pull out of my back pocket when I absolutely, positively have to make that ultimate heroic effort and the stupid dice are being uncooperative. I love being able to swashbuckle, to throw myself between the innocent and harm, to make that ultimate effort and save the day.

Hmmm... I wonder if I could get Hero Points for Real Life(tm)? It sure would help.
jaegamer: (Default)
I'm bad at journals, but my friend Rick introduced me to LiveJournal, so I'll give it a try.

I met Rick years and years ago, playing an email Vampire game. Our characters clicked -- two more different people you couldn't have designed! -- and a friendship developed. Big blocks of time might go by between communications, but that link is always there. Friendship is like that.

March 2013



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