Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Time Traveller's Wife

I saw The Time Traveller's Wife recently. I thought it was a good film. I'm hard pressed to decide if it was sci-fi, drama, or romance. But it was intelligent and well written. And it got me thinking. I recently wrote a post about playing characters with attachments to other characters. Never mind the story potential that exists simply in a character with uncontrollable psi powers (in case you don't know, the male lead in the Time Traveller's Wife is a timeporter, but can't control when he ports, or to what destination, or for how long), this plot made me consider the idea of running totally mundane characters who have to deal with their relationships with people who are always off doing something dangerous.

Just think of how many people are married to soldiers in active military duty. It's a hard life, but certainly it can be interesting to examine the dynamics of their relationship. Think about the scores of women who were constantly afraid that their husband would die in World War II. What about the drama of a joyful reunion when the soldiers returned home? Or even worse, the misery of a family who received a telegram informing them that their husband/son/father would never return home? Surely there's some story possibilities in these sorts of relationships?

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Few items are as representative of the hobby of gaming as a whole as dice. Apart from those few games that use diceless systems (such as Amber Diceless Roleplaying) or alternate systems (I've heard of a game based on playing cards, though I can't remember what it was called), every game requires the use of the SPRNGMs (Sacred Plastic Random Number Generation Modules, as a friend used to call them). The only other items needed are some books, paper, and pencil. None of which are unique to gaming. Some games require maps and miniatures, but most can get along fine without. So really, if there is to be a symbol of gaming, it should probably be those wonderful little polyhedrons.

Some have expressed surprise at my adoration of the little numerical blobs; as I am generally a proponent of story over combat, my friends seem to think that I would be anti-dice. But I'm not! I tend to love the look of them, and have a small collection (I tend to only add interesting or unusual dice, so it's nowhere near as impressive as the one detailed at The Dice Collector). I have a few d6s made from brass, some oversized ones, a small bag of twenty tiny (about 3mm across each) six siders, a d24, 2d7, two dice that are designed to be spun like tops rather than rolled (1d6 and 1d8), a d30, and a couple of dice-in-dice (one that is a small d6 inside a larger d6, one that is a small d10 inside a larger d10, and one that is two small d6 inside a larger d6).

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Something I used to do on occasion was to play in a "Tylenol" game. This gets its name from the premise that you'd find what appeared to be a bottle of Tylenol on the counter with a label that says, "Eat me." Upon taking one of the pills, you'd find yourself transported to a game world, transformed into one of the denizens. It is the ultimate form of the "If you were a character in (game x), what would you be?" Obviously, most games are played in D&D, but I've played tylenol games in a number of other settings, and most of them don't even require the bottle of tylenol to get there! For example, in Vampire, you can just be embraced. Any sort of game that involves a trasnfiguration like that can work just as well.

If you didn't already know and haven't figured it out yet, a Tylenol game is one in which you play yourself. Rather than creating a character as normal, you simply list those stats that you actually have. Then apply modifications to adjust for the in-game characteristics (for example, maybe you'd apply the elven racial template).