Sunday, April 26, 2009

PC Group

Hello, and welcome to another fun-filled week of the Game Dork's gaming corner! This week, I'm going to talk about the adventuring party.

You all know the scenario: "You're in a tavern. There's a mysterious stranger sitting alone in a corner." Or, perhaps, "Someone comes over to your table." And before long, this character is recruited to join a party of people he has never met before to go off on some whirlwind adventure of killing monsters and taking their treasure, with the added benefit of some extra prize at the end of the story.

I used to run stories like that. That was all my gaming group would ever do, when we started a game. We'd each write up our individual characters, and then the GM would have to scramble to find some way to get the characters together. Often, he'd fail, and the characters would realise they have no reason to work together, and the game would fall apart.

The first time we tried to do it differently was our failed experiment in actually using the pack rules from Werewolf. But later, I decided to try a more cohesive approach, and it worked very well, actually. Now I do it every time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hack and Slash vs. Storytelling

For those who don't know, I haven't been able to do any gaming now for over two years. Moving to a new country can have that effect; I haven't yet been able to find anyone to game with over here. There's been talk about gaming via Skype, but that won't be for a while yet. It's kind of frustrating at times.

But it has given me plenty of time to analyse and think about gaming in more general, abstract terms. Especially since I recently acquired the second Order of the Stick prequel book, Start of Darkness. Reading that made me want to reread the entire series, which I've been doing. And as I read that story, I'm struck by the intense plotline.

For those that don't read it (and I highly recommend that you start), there's the good guys (the titular Order of the Stick), and then there are the main bad guys (the lich sorcerer Xykon and his goblin lackey Redcloak). But then there are the secondary bad guys, the Linear Guild. Then we have other key players, like the paladins of the Sapphire Guard, and the Thieves' Guild in Greysky City. Not to mention loads of bit players, like the oracle of Sunken Valley, the Cliffport City police force, and the bandits of Wooden Forest.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection

Welcome to another week of the Game Dork's Gaming Corner! Today is Easter, so I thought I'd talk about the "revolving door afterlife."

Specifically, I am thinking of games (most notably Dungeons and Dragons) in which a dead character can be brought back to life to continue adventuring. Often, this takes all the meaning out of death, since you just come right back again mere moments later and pick up as if nothing had ever happened.

I am particularly amused by a tiny detail (many people may even fail to notice it) in the book On the Origin of PCs, which is a prequel volume for The Order of the Stick. At one point, Roy is standing in a graveyard speaking to the tomb of his father. Off to the side is a plain tombstone labelled "Leeron the Unlucky: 1014-1041, 1041-1041, 1041-1041, 1041-1041."

But it just proves my point: What's the point of death if you just come right back? Oops, a minor inconvenience, the cleric must use on of his spell slots (and if your group is keeping track of these things, enough gold to cover the material components). Now, on with the game!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Realism

Welcome to another week of the Game Dork's Gaming Corner. Today, I'd like to talk about a realisation I had while rereading The Order of the Stick for about the 27th time.

Many of the jokes in that comic revolve around idiosyncracies in the rules. The characters frequently make fun of the Attack of Opportunity rules in Dungeons and Dragons. They have often poked fun at experience points and the level system. These jokes are common topics of humour and/or complaint amongst gamers. People often complain that the rules system isn't realistic.

And yet it occurs to me that they're playing a game in which you take on the roles of elves, dwarves, orcs, and gnomes, encountering goblins, trolls, dragons, and umber hulks, fighting them with swords, magic spells, magic rings, and arrows.

I've mentioned this before, but I still find it quite amusing that people can get so upset over what they perceive to be flaws in the rules, or variations in the rules, or deviations from the rules... and so forth.