A woman born into squalor whose determination and aptitude for violence moved her from the most obvious career paths as she forges a crew of her own. A grifter with a knack for playing roles above his station perhaps a bit to well, and who might just be living a con of his own. A street child with a knack for getting where she is not supposed to, who is finding that she must choose between the old ways of her people and the new life they are building for themselves in Duskwall. A mad arsonist, who’s inventions, as terrifying as they are, can prove to be incredibly useful…if you don’t find yourself experimented on first. Meet the Party strives to create ready-to-play characters for a variety of systems and settings, both for your use and to inspire you in making characters of your own. This week, we will be taking a look at the award winning indie tabletop game Blades in the Dark from our friends over at Evil Hat Productions.
Welcome back to Level One Wonk, where new campaign day is every day! Starting scenarios run a huge gamut in role-playing games, but it’s the tropey tired ones that continue to haunt the institutional memory of this hobby. “You all meet in a tavern” has steadily been replaced by “you all wake up in prison”, but the fact remains that establishing a campaign introduction without player input makes you vulnerable to these and other contrivances. There is of course a time and a place for every kind of campaign introduction, but sometimes you want to both get into the stuff your players care about as well as make them care quickly. This is when you want to run a Session Zero.
Welcome back to Level One Wonk, where together we will wonk out on various and sundry gaming topics! Now that you’ve finished gorging yourself on turkey (and maybe checking out some Burning Wheel characters), it’s time to look down that home stretch of the year, get ready for the holiday season, and maybe even make some New Year’s Resolutions. Instead of thinking about the game today, let’s think about the gaming group. While playstyle, system, and campaign all play into a gaming group having fun, there are even more basic structural elements that are key, and it all comes down to who’s doing what.
A strange cultist who everyone ignored until he accidentally summoned a lesser demon. A noblewoman, cast to the nunnery for birthing a bastard and now on the run from a coup. A rebellious participant in said coup, who found his true god within the Cult of the Dead Stars. Meet the Party is jumping systems again, this time generating a trio of unlikely heroes for Burning Wheel!
An honorable bushi sworn to stand against the Shadowlands but longing to follow her heart. A wily courtier keeping the Emerald Empire together with his eye straying towards wealth. A ninja disguised as a magistrate, working in the shadows but dreaming of standing in the light. A shugenja tasked with keeping the people of Rokugan pure, even while corruption eats at her mind. Meet the Party travels to a land of samurai, bushidō, giri, and ninjō to create a party of ready-to-play characters living and struggling in the Emerald Empire of Rokugan, playing with Fantasy Flight Games’s Legend of the Five Rings Beta!
An investigator wielding her lightsaber in the shadows, cleaving to a Code that most think is extinct. A bounty hunter and skip tracer who always has the weight of her family, culture, and people on her back. A ‘retired’ combat analyst who has turned his programming towards solving mysteries. A small-town marshal on a big-city planet, trying to look out for the little guys. Meet the Party heads into the depths of an ecumenopolis in a Galaxy Far, Far Away to try something a little different, genre-wise: a Star Wars party of sleuths, vigilantes, and Private Investigators!
Creating characters is ultimately the launchpad of any gaming experience. This is equally true for the GM, which can present an interesting set of challenges. While each player need only focus on who they’re playing for the game, the GM must populate the whole rest of the world. The balance is, like any other number of storytelling strategies, making the world seem real while not doing an exhausting amount of work. The key strategies for writing memorable NPCs are differentiation, motivation, and improvisation. That last one in particular can take on a couple of different forms…so if you don’t think of yourself as an “improv GM”, fear not!
A hunter of vermin who’s eyeing much larger prey for her flail to be used on. An old squire without her knight, looking for some vengeance and maybe some glory. A bounty hunter chasing down the biggest score of her life. A coachwoman just trying to make her way along the roads with the strangest group of passengers she’s ever moved. Meet the Party is adding a new system to its collection, but this time the dice are the ones making the choices. That’s right, we’ve got randomly generated characters hoping to survive in the dark, cruel world of Zweihander. It looks like they just might, too: these are some tough ladies!
A beast master who tames great predators and rides them into battle. A warrior, honing his skill with a blade and his rage in equal measure. A veteran scout, adept at taking advantage of the terrain around her. A wise shaman, knowledgeable and well-spoken, talented in ancient magics. And . . . they’re all three foot tall teddy bears? Meet the Party strives to create ready-to-play characters for a variety of systems and settings, both for your use and to inspire you in making characters of your own. This time we’re heading to the Forest Moon of Endor, there to meet a band of Ewoks ready for adventure that may just take them to the stars!
Are you a Butt-Kicker, a Specialist, or a Story-Teller? There is a huge world of games out there to satisfy every player’s and group’s style. And while there are academic discussions in every corner of the internet, sometimes it’s best to start at level one. Join the Level One Wonk in exploring the possibilities that RPGs have to offer, from Aberrant to Zorcerer of Zo. Today we look at how to get into character before the game. Let’s write a backstory!