Sunday, May 31, 2009

Adult Gaming

Greetings! This week, I felt it might be a good idea to discuss sex in gaming. Some of you may wonder why sex needs to be included in your games. Well, strictly speaking, it doesn't need to be included. But why not? The point of gaming is to have fun, right? And sex is fun, right? So why not combine the two?

Ok, I'll admit it. Probably the only players that will want to include sex in their games will be method actors and storytellers. Butt-kickers don't like the idea of their cathartic violence being interrupted for non-violent activities, like sex. Power gamers aren't interested in sex in their games because it does nothing to contribute to their character's power level. Tacticians aren't interested in sex because it has nothing to do with their quest to out-think their enemies. Specialists could go either way, depending on what sort of character they've chosen as their specialty; ninjas aren't known as great lovers, but some other types may (I've known a couple people who really enjoy playing were-cats in the White Wolf shapechanger game, and the were-cats are supposedly extremely sensual creatures).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Alignment

Hello again. Today, I found myself thinking about alignments. Not all games use alignments (in fact, depending on how you define "alignment," I've only played two games that use an alignment system at all), but they tend to be a focal topic in many discussions of gaming. The most prominent example of this is, of course, D&D, with their system of "good versus evil" and "law versus chaos." I will assume that if you're reading this, you already know how that system works; if not, it's easy enough to google it. The only other system of alignment in the practical sense that I've played has been in Changeling: The Dreaming where your character belongs to either the Seelie or the Unseelie court.

In fact, it was in part the misunderstanding of Seelie vs. Unseelie that started me thinking about this subject. Many people who are unfamiliar with the Changeling system make the mistake of equating Seelie with good and Unseelie with evil, when that is not the case at all.

But how exactly does one define "good" and "evil?" This is a topic that I have discussed with friends in the past, and only one thing has become certain: there is no objective measure of good or evil. The terms are completely subjective; what one person thinks is evil, someone else will think of as good (or perhaps even as neither). But almost as important, the good/evil spectrum can be mapped out along many different lines.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Music

Have you ever used music in a game? I've seen it done. I've done it myself a few times. Get just the right track going for that good battle scene, or play some regional music to set the mood...

I think the best success I had at this was when I was running a Mage game set in 1945. The players were trying to acquire artifacts that had been distributed around the world as they attempt to prevent a doomsday device from falling into enemy hands... in the course of this game, they travelled to Australia, Uzbekistan, a tiny island nation called Nauru, France, Prague, and New Mexico. For each game session, I put on a CD of the music appropriate to the location. In Australia, I had a CD of aboriginal music in the background. I found the top ten radio tracks from the US in 1945, as well as the top ten radio hits in France the same year. And so forth.

But what I've always wanted to do was to create a "soundtrack." I'd like to have music appropriate to whatever scene is going on: rousing music for a battle scene, upbeat music for a travel scene, suspenseful music for a creepy scene, and so forth. I've tried a few times, but it's often quite difficult to achieve. For one, it's usually hard to switch CDs when you switch scenes (of course, with the advent of mp3 players, this is much easier now; just programme playlists for each type of mood). For another, what music do you choose?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Co-operation

Hello again! Here we go, off on another week of the Game Dork's diatribes essays! Today, I found myself thinking (don't ask me why) about a game I was in once. It was a GURPS Fantasy game, inspired in part by a previous GURPS Space game run by a different friend, where each player created his own alien race. There were some really neat species in that game... but one of the players liked the idea so much that he started a Fantasy game along the same lines. I still use two of the races from that game on occasion: my Staglings and John's Ængoa.

But enough about the irrelevant details. The thing I was remembering was a conflict that arose from a concession that the GM gave to me: I had asked that there be no "common" language. Since, after all, there's no such thing as a "common" language in the real world; why on earth would there be one in any other world? I liked the challenge of finding ways to communicate without being able to assume that we could talk to anyone we met.

So when it came time to create a PC party, we had to address the issue of linguistics. How would the party communicate? Would we all learn a single shared language? Would we carry magic telepathic artefacts? Would one party member learn everyone's languages and act as translator?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Board Game Review: Tara

Hello and welcome to another week of the Game Dork's rantings. Sorry it's a day late; yesterday was quite crazy.

Today, I will review the board game known by many different names (the box is labelled "Tara," but it also says "Project Kells." It's made by "Tailten Games." But if you open the box and read the rules, it claims the game is called "Sacred Hill," and suggests that you go to their websit eat projectkells.com but that redirects you to http://www.tailtengames.com, so who knows what to call this game?).
The board at the end of a game. The board is square, with the corners cut out so it forms a sort of cross shape. Along the edge of the board is complex celtic knotwork in an elaborate zoomorphic theme with birds entwined. The play area itself is filled with plastic pieces; these are rings in both blue and red which are joined to the pieces next to them with 'bridges' that combine the rings into a celtic knotwork pattern.

The game itself, according to the rules booklet, is just one variant possible with the equipment provided, and the website has rules for a second, called "High Kings of Tara." In fact, several of the game components aren't used in "Sacred Hill" at all.

Anyway, before we go any further, let's get the statistics up here: