Archive for the Roleplaying Games Category

…on “Is That Label Still A Negative These Days???”

Posted in Brain Droppings, Deep Ponderings, Humor, Nerdiness, Roleplaying Games on February 8, 2013 by journeymantojo

Me: “And of course I think the video is funny because it makes fun of tabletop gamers. I mean, the video was making fun of people like me and I was still laughing my ass off.”

Co-worker: “Tabletop gamer?”

Me: “Yeah. You know, Dungeons and Dragons…Shadowrun…Vampire…Exalted? Pen and paper, tabletop role playing games.”

Co-worker: “You played those things? You were one of those guys?”

Me: ………

[End Scene]

True story. That happened to me this weekend at work. I was skeptical at first. I mean, what did she mean. I asked her and her response was “Oh nothing, I just didn’t know you were one of those people.” What? One of those people? You mean….a nerd? Uh, duh I’m a nerd. I’ve made no bones about that. Apparently she must’ve thought I was referring to myself as one of those people who use the word without any real idea as to what that word means.You-keep-using-that-word-300x252Inconceivable!

And as the day wore on, I began to think of the meaning of the word to me and all the other guys who did all-nighters role playing or video gaming or discussing how Final Fantasy VII was going to shift paradigms and how The Hulk would totally win against Superman because his strength grew exponentially with his level of rage whereas Superman’s strength was static or goofing off, drawing Mendel squares to define empirically the odds and frequency in which werewolves mating with humans would produce werewolves (Werewolf The Apocalypse clearly states that the werewolf -aka Garou- trait is recessive).funny_picdump_211_640_18That’s why I always picked you Hulk. Supes never backed up anything he said.

But we weren’t always time killing on such frivolous – or at the time could be seen as frivolous – endeavors as which superhero was cooler or why every gamer wasn’t allowed to make an all half-elf/half-orc/tiefling/genasi/aasimar/gnoll/cambion/whatever-other-monster-hybrid-they-could-concoct party or which new video game was going to usher in the next generation of AIs and so on. We were also in the school band and athletes and winning annual yearbook booby prizes (best dressed, most likely to…, etc.). We were wrestlers, and football players, and math quizzers, and drama campers. We had steadies and attended dances and went to regionals.

What we didn’t realize at the time was those frivolous activities we participated in at the time were enhancing our experiences. Now I can’t quote statistics and shit, but from my own experiences I can say firmly that the nerdiness could be compared to supplemental homework.

When I was in middle school and high school, I could give two shits about what anything outside of history or science, but it actually was working on my math skills with gaming. Ask anyone who has ever played the games GURPS or Champions and they will explain that fuck yeah you needed some math skills. And the difficulty I would have with just relating a tale or story would be so much more than what it is if I hadn’t taken a few turns behind the GM’s screen. Ever had a job where you find yourself in a leader role – even if just temporarily – and have some unruly co-workers? Yeah?! Take a few rounds behind the screen with some munchkins.

It also provides perspective and debate skills, in my opinion. I may lose my cool on occasions, nobody’s perfect. But it’s nice to have the experience of explaining how the super power photographic reflexes will trump genetic enhancement and super-soldier serums any day of the week when said experience translates into explaining how a montessori school is not your idea of what constitutes a fulfilling learning environment. (Yes, I have had that discussion and the ability to arrange your thoughts, some data and also willing to offer certain concessions – all skills I learned from ‘nerd subject material’ debates. You have to be on the fly super prepared when your debating against a true Captain America fan.)

Want a funny story where it could be considered supplemental homework? Enjoy this little anecdote that kinda covers the ‘learn’ and ‘debate’ bullet points simultaneously. I’ll try to keep this one brief. resized_kM44j1Darth Megahot Wants you to read this story too!

[PLAY TAPE]
One game session – it was Dungeons and Dragons – our party had wondered into a town looking to recover from a particularly heinous dungeon crawl. I mean it was brutal. We lost one party member pretty early. He was a paladin, one of our aggro sponges, so yes our beating in that crawl was pretty heavy. To top it off, the heavy at the end of the crawl ended up being a total anti-climax. Seriously, who has mongrelmen assisted by a horde of kobolds as the boss monster after a crawl that included rooms with clever monsters like rust monsters and a list of some pretty devious traps. The GM did recently acquire a Grimtooth’s and decided to use it immediately. But I digress. We roll into town needed a good resurrection spell and a decent inn to heal and divvy up that hard won loot. It wasn’t a large town. More like a little trading place for the local farms and dales.

They turned us away. Didn’t even get into the town proper. A place we could see from where they stopped us. The GM was being a total prick. I mean, we did rib him pretty hard on the boss fight. Yeah, we were upset. But he was getting even now. The town had a VERY experienced guard keeping us from entering. “This is a peaceful hamlet and we will not allow trouble makers in.” “We just need to rest and resurrect our friend. One night and we’ll be gone,” we pleaded. “No, we will not cop to any ‘adventurers’ (The GM added some venom to that sarcasm. This little session was quickly becoming meta.)” “Just one ni-” “NO!” This went on for a while. The wizard had already assessed the guards power level. They would’ve owned us. And our cleric hadn’t talked to his deity since the last encounter.

We left the town in a huff. After a bit of a trek, some of us bleeding out – this was before third edition and it’s skills system, so no real ‘first-aid’ – and all of us becoming upset with the town we decided to take it up a notch on the ‘we-don’t-allow-meta-but-the-GM-was-being-a-dick-so-let’s-get-stupid-meta’. We had an extra pack mule. Wasn’t carrying anything. The wizard took the mule, and through an interesting melange of spells (don’t ask. I can’t remember the exact stack) enabled the mule with the spellcasting talent. Yes, he taught the mule the Art! Of course, it was all by the book. And of course the GM is allowing this because he wants to see this play out. Now the mule can cast spells and most importantly, read scrolls. The last one is the key because, our wizard checks with the GM “You could say that donkey was pretty thirsty, right?” GM thinks it over. “Sure,” he says. “Cool.” “Hey, Tony. Still got your teleports?” I check the sheet. Yep, all four. I pass it to the wizard who promptly hangs it in front of the mule. The mule reads the scroll and BAMF! gone. Quickly, the wizard grabs one of the new magic rulebooks the group acquired and points out all these weird ass charts on odds to teleport here and how to determine those odds and so on.big-boobs-flbp-13Darth Megahot is happy you decided to keep reading.

Now this is where it gets funny. And the real world comes in. The wizard rolls the dice. He’s clearly aiming the mule. He wants a specific range of numbers. A little chuckle, a collective ‘come on?!’ from the other players and CLACK! He rolled the sweetness. Perfect. The mule teleported into a wall within the hamlet. The cleric looks the GM directly in the eye and says, as stone cold as possible, “Now. That town is atomized.” The GM goes to object and before he opens his mouth, one of the most epic debates started. Matter cannot occupy the same space as other matter at the same time. It was one of the most beautiful debates. We were all in on it. Every objection had a solid counterpoint. The debate raged for almost twenty minutes or better. “You can’t aim a mule reading a scroll!” Hey man, the dice don’t lie. “The mule died as it entered the wall!” Doesn’t make a difference, dead or alive, matter is matter and two objects can’t occupy same place and time bro. Finally logic entered the debate. One statement that should’ve ended it there. “Guys, this is a fantasy game!” But we were waiting for that one too. When the GM wouldn’t let us make an all outsider halfbreed party, he made his point using an argument that he supported with population stats and genetic models. (I’m making none of this up.) Well, if he can use sociology, life science and statistics to corral our race choices, then we will use physics and game theory to nuke a hamlet (As twisted or ill informed as that decision was).

After so much debate, he finally conceded. This hamlet who denied us entrance was atomized. But don’t worry. The GM got even. He saved the locale so that the next time we were in that area with a new party, he broke out a copy of Gamma World and had us roll on the random mutation tables. Seems the fall out from the hamlet lingered and caused mutations. Guess we forgot that the GM was just as devious as us.Star Wars Girls_-40-1Thank you for reading. Here’s a hot Storm Trooper.
[END TAPE]

This is one of my favorite tales. And relevant in that it kinda shows that those nerds talking about dragons and elves and Ant-man and Deadpool and Cloud Strife and Solid Snake aren’t just talking about video games and comics and tabletop games. Their talking about mythology and science and technology and drama and adventure and sociology and anthropology and the arts and philosophy and politics and so much more.

Yeah, I’m a nerd. And no matter what else is said about me – comedian, writer, philosopher, chef, magnificent bastard – I will always be proudest of nerd. Really, what other badge do I need?

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…on Gaming Soundtracks: Cyberpunk Edition

Posted in Brain Droppings, Cyberpunk, Lists, Music, Roleplaying Games with tags , , , , on January 12, 2012 by journeymantojo

Warning: This one is for my gaming friends. My usual followers will find my talk of “cybers” and “runners” a bit weird. But I’m a nerd. So I’m gonna nerd out for a bit and just talk to the gamers.

2nd Warning: Some of this music is for adults only. Though I do still snicker when I hear ‘dick’ in the lyrics. And some of these lyrics are…well, they’re not for the timid.

Now I’m not referring to video games. I’m talking the table top stuff. It’s something I always hear when I’m listening to a record or soundtrack or music in general. “Man, this is giving me some awesome imagery. Let’s use this.”

Now when it’s a future setting I prefer something electronic or mind blow-y. Like:

Yeah, that’s the major from Ghost in the Shell. One of the greatest cyberpunk anime to date…in my less than humble opinion. The song is from Stand Alone Complex. Phenomenal show and one of the best sources for cyberpunk imagery and stories. Pop this one in to prep myself for the game. Lots of synth. And awesome vocals.It just makes me think of fast paced, somber moments. And drop ships. Don’t know why it does the last.

Got combat? Need the dice to roll? Shit hit the fan and you got guys dicking around? I throw this one in. Fast paced and keeps the bullets flying. There is a reason this shit works in movies. Because it gets blood going. And it will keep the dice hot so you don’t have anybody “strategizing”. Other really good bullet throwers:

Anything to keep the action going. I always like the feel to be anything that just keeps the action going. Stay in character and fight. Noise = chaos. So thrash never hurts.

High speed and full of noise. And for those who like to make an entrance. Fully cybered and owns the room.

And come on. Slow waltz into a club only to have shit go down. Yeah. Oldie but a goodie. And while we’re on the subject of shit breaking down.

A runner’s worst nightmare. A hack that goes scary….fast.

Hand-to-hand always seems to break down game flow. But if you keep the players heads in the game, it becomes an epic experience. I always like this one for when your cybers decide to handle it old skool.

And yeah, even your cybers will need to go lo-fi on some runs. Other lo-fi guerrilla warfare aka the house to house shit type music below.

Yeah, like that. And….

Hey! It’s a song about robbing and living criminal….you know, like all the illegitimate actions your runners and cybers will be doing. Ante Up.

This one has actually led to some very good situations. Cybers and runners suddenly becoming the most dangerous element in the game….men with no more shits to give. Even the gamers who didn’t even like hip-hop went insane in the game. Lit cigarettes, action, bullets, broken arms, and just general mayhem. Ordered chaos…with lyrics.

That should be enough to get it going. But let’s close with a good finale. The summation. The cool down. The what-the-hell-went-down part. ExP and awards. Divvy the loot and vanish into the shadows until your tapped for the next run.

Good run. See you guys at the next game.