Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Fashionable Roleplaying

Creativity is an outlet, more so for the technical mind I suspect, crowded in by business workflows, engineering problems and the day to day challenges of making sure your underwear is not inside out. Whilst Roleplaying exercises a very underused muscle these days, it can be a quick fix and something to look forward to in an otherwise ordinary week. There is the matter of talent of course - not sure exactly what talent looks like in roleplaying but I have fond memories of Chris dancing around with a couple of carpet tiles when he was playing a sort of  animated jukebox, most entertainment I have had since Top of the Pops went off the air.

Nevertheless I would be remiss in not mentioning some of the amazing artwork that comes with the trade. Having visited a MegaCon event in Florida several years ago you do get overwhelmed  by the enthusiasm and effort people go to to decorate themselves. In fact its worth just going in a crowd for the crowd.

Physical Representation, or phys-rep as we call it in the trade has utility when you are actually playing but there are artisans that go above and beyond - there is a point where skill becomes art and some pieces are phenomenal. 

From the large to the very small, with skills more reminiscent of neurosurgery are the miniature armies of the war gaming tables. Lovingly attended  and and in fact impossibly crafted using something akin to a quantum paintbrush. In fact I believe there are still annual awards for such detailing and whilst I would be happier to bump into an army only two inches tall rather than some of the other characters depicted here, I think they would be more challenging in game.

Finally I do think its important to say that its the taking part that counts and whilst passion is a wonderful thing, imagination also has its place...

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Never Give In, Never Surrender

There are mumerings in sub-scpace and possibly even the first Starfleet missives regarding crew assignments that might be happening for a StarTrek game that could possibly be in effect in the perhaps nearish future. Despite practicing my non committal communications, GM Jon is starting to have initial chats about launching a Starfleet vessel, so watch this space, pun intended.

It moves me neatly onto the trending subject of the new Star Trek Discovery currently airing and as I am a roleplayer and I have never seen any of the episodes I am going to immediately Troll it and say its the worst pile of crap ever to have come into existence. Now I am clearly having to use the scientific method to extrapolate opinion and craft a Trek Theory. Correct me if I am wrong, but arbitrary character led story arcs are completely alien to all that Star Trek ever was at is core; an episodic, hard hitting philosophical series regarding contemporary moral and ethical dilemmas that ultimately resolved themselves - a mirror to the human condition that not only describes our contention but also challenge us in what it should mean to be human.

Whilst TNG was excellent, it did show the occasional crack in stepping away from the clarity and focus of TOS, possibly related to Gene Rodenberry's passing. In my mind dilution continued through Voyager, although there were occasional gems, and was swallowed up almost entirely by DS9  which was just a pointless drama bar a very few poignant scenes. I appreciate the Pinocchio condition of Data trying to be human and the trauma of 7of9 regaining her humanity, which were excellent lenses for existentialism, they were just too interesting to balance against the rest of the banal crew - substituting good plot for character development ultimately causes too much strain on outward looking issues.

So I am getting the impression that I am not the only one on board here and stemming on from the wonderful Galaxy Quest that somehow managed to be a parody if itself as well as Trek, I find myself being slowly captivated with the crew of the Orville. Yes, there are the awkward first couple of episodes but this is settling very quickly and some of the humour is just side splitting. Whats more, there are extraordinarily hard issues that are faced, such as child death during war and extreme infant gender reassignment. There are episodes regarding religious isolation, democratizing facts, commoditising people and animal captivity. Combine such fresh issues with likable and flawed characters who's interactions are so familiar we can feel part of the crew ourselves - we may well finally have a comedy drama for the first time in 40 years to rival the quality of MASH. 

So at last to the point of this article - when do we get the Orville RPG ?

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Retributive Strike

Its been a while since I've had a character blow up. Casting my mind back I believe it was a Paladin if memory serves and perhaps not so surprising to those in the extremist religion business - as it happens we were reminiscing at the club over several good old book burning memories with a view to perhaps introducing it as a national day - basically if I am allowed to talk like a pirate and celebrate keel hauling then as far as I am concerned, I should also be able to destroy knowledge in both a family friendly and socially inclusive way. In my case it was a Rolemaster Paladin, which, at 10th level gains Retributive Strike allowing him to lay down his life by channeling his deity's raw  power directly through himself into his enemy dealing a vast amount of damage in a final blaze of glory.

Whilst its not unusual to lose a Paladin under many circumstances including but not exclusively related to: charging in to rescue a  Princess, laying down ones life to save kittens, catching an acid vomit from  possessed teenagers and/or celibacy, my character did at least manage to take out a bad guy.

In the Phoenix dawn we were facing off against an seemingly ancient and powerful guardian, in fact a non corporeal Phoenix from before the Dawn Command came into existence that, for reasons unknown, was following a different authority. Whilst the damage thresholds were high they were potentially not insurmountable but it was getting clear to me that my fellow phoenixes were struggling on their last sparks and the situation was far from in the bag. Things were slipping.

As it happened, from my characters military leadership background it seemed entirely reasonable for it to come down to a shouting match. If this entity, specifically an ancient Phoenix on its last life, was not prepared to submit to the chain of command then we do what we do to all treason in the ranks and execute a court martial of an extremely brief nature. This basically entailed Nick stripping off some of the entity's armor and with a skill spread, filling up the void inside with gunpowder. Following up with my superhuman strength, I picked up the guardian, marched him into a separate room and ignited us both to chalk up the second of my seven lives lost. Very satisfying but not something I would recommend on a regular basis but it was in character and as we have just celebrated Guy Fawkes night, so also very seasonal !

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

String Theory

How long is a piece of string ? As mooted here on occasion, we have had many discussions over the years regarding the optimal length of a campaign. There are of course an enormous number of factors that affect the genre but it doesn't mean that we cant subject this to scientific scrutiny and aim to resolve a Universal Theory of  Roleplaying or as I am calling it, Rope Theory.

The hypothesis is that whilst to the general frame of reference, a game is a cohesive field of problem solving and creative interactions, on the smallest scale the fabric of the game is actually held together by a vast amount of tiny arguments (A), wrapped up so small that we are barely aware of their presence except when they surface from time to time due to fluctuations in the atmosphere that occur during player interaction.

It's important that a game is inclusive even when the player (P) base changes or when people can only make it semi regularly so let call this I, Imax being desirable. There can only be one GM in principal though I am aware of strange instances when two GMs have coordinated, but as this is a general theory, not a special one, we will assume a GM subscript m of 1,  Dm, in its  typical form. As we have to sum each game across an infinite number of realms R-0 to Rmax, there is of course an integral involved, and as there is an element of chance, probability comes into effect, or, more accurately, wave functions collapse when the dice have finished rolling, w0. This can affect the number of players due to character death,X , which also then has an implication on a campaign length L.

So in its first incarnation, let me propose that:

L= 0Rmax (([[Dm*P]/A] * w0)+(A^Imax)) -X*P

Of course I am trailblazing here and I am sure that peer review will hone this formula but in order to reach the stars we have to stand on the shoulders of giants. I thank you.