When someone says the word ‘adventurer’, the picture of a steady home life is not often one of the images called to mind. The dusty road, the shadows between the megascrapers, the space between the stars, these are most often the places that adventurers spend their time and make their fortune – or lose everything. While being an adventurer, or really any type of player character. almost universally involves going where others won’t either physically or mentally, I think there’s something to be said for breaking the mold and giving them a tavern, a ship, a base, a business, a home. While it might not be the one they were all born to, a party of adventurers with a place of their own can certainly turn it into a place that makes them feel like they belong.
Ah, GURPS. One of the most comprehensive toolkits on the RPG market, GURPS and its plethora of supplements offer the ability to play in almost any genre at almost any complexity level. The tradeoff here is that when you open the GURPS Basic Set for the first time, you are dazzled and overwhelmed by a vast range of options to select, dials to adjust, and levers to pull. Coming from a game like D&D, a GM starting with GURPS isn’t going to know where to, ahem, start. Steve Jackson Games realized that, and recruited two GURPS veterans to write How To Be A GURPS GM. While this slim volume is thin on generalizable GMing advice (with admittedly good reason), it does exactly what it says on the tin, and provides some guidance on how to actually make GURPS do what you want it to do.
The Beta Campaign. I made have made previous mention to it in a past article, but what precisely is it? While we at Cannibal Halfling are hardly going to take credit for the idea of running multiple campaigns within a group, I think we owe it to at least mention its benefits. When I initially joined a particular group, through which I met the fellow CH staff, a lot of the focus was on a single campaign. This is not to complain about that, and I had a great deal of fun, but as we keep playing throughout the years there are things that I have noticed as we take on new responsibilities in our lives.
After over a dozen years of playing tabletop RPGs and nearly as many systems, I got excited about a new game. I had played fantasy and sci-fi and supernatural and post-apocalyptic games, but here was one for my favorite genre, horror (the names and faces of the games have been withheld because this is not a review). The problem I ran into was that I couldn’t find anybody who wanted to run the damn game. Then one day my boyfriend suggested to me that *I* run it. Oh boy. So now I was a Game Master (GM). What exactly had I gotten myself into? Let me tell you a bit about some things I learned in my first forays into GMing. I promise you’ll make your own mistakes, but maybe you can at least avoid mine.
A few years ago, I played in my first (and currently only) GURPS game. It was set in the early Age of Sail, using GURPS rules for tech levels where we had to find a new heir to the crown in Tudor-era England after an explosion kills Henry VIII. The game was, in predictable fashion for my group and the system, a little wacky: the leader of the sailing expedition had neglected to put points in either sailing, swimming or leadership. The doctor was a manic depressive pyromaniac (aboard a wooden ship). Our priest was actively planning to betray the party, and the rest of us learned it, leading to each trying to out-scheme each other. The game never finished, but for all the craziness, I still have fond memories of it.
The party has made it to the throne room of the dark lord, stumbling from wounds and shepherding the last of their spells and strength. As they enter the lord stands up and boasts of how outmatched they are, and it’s hard to argue with him as minions lurk in the shadows. Still, the cleric steps forth to rebuke the dark one – only to gurgle as the tip of a short sword emerges from his chest. As the body falls and party members turn to face the culprit the party rogue holds up his bloody blade and swears fealty to the dark lord. Around the table players turn themselves to face the rogue’s player, voices starting to rise, as he shrugs and says “It’s what my character would do!”
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.
As the small task force led by the Borrowed Time and now going by the name of the Rabblerousers hurtled through hyperspace to put some distance between itself and Sullust, the various leaders were meeting aboard the CEC L-2783 Rabblerouser One. Definitively out of touch with High Command the mixed group of Special Operations agents, Sullustan Resistance recruits, and Bolthole Station refugees were facing down the prospect of carrying on the Rebellion by themselves. It was a daunting proposition. While they were relatively well-stocked and had essentially been growing the task force ever since leaving Dahvil, they were operating on their own initiative and with no supply line. Thankfully the Intelligence agents assigned to report to Patience had a few leads . . .
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 a variation of typical gaming that takes a bit more thought: two-player gaming, with just one player and one GM! Ready to stare into someone’s eyes and tell them to roll initiative? Read on.
When it comes to playing any tabletop RPG, it’s all about the story. Maybe that story is simple, with a certain amount of murderhobo-ing, minimal ‘story’ in the traditional sense, and lots of loot spent on getting better at being a murderhobo. Maybe that story is quite complex, with character development, multiple arcs, themes and motifs and the like. No matter what, it’s a story of sorts, and everyone around the table is telling it. But what about when parts of that story have been told by someone else? Not just things you’ve used to inspire your game, no. I mean, how does playing in a pre-established setting change things and challenge your group?