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When discussing tantaene [livejournal.com profile] jeffwik stated:

Not disputing that, but it's not well-organized: what, if you're coming in to it cold, should you read first? What should you try to remember? What can you safely skip over? Plus there's again a lot of jargon and shaded meaning.


This of course has me thinking about the role of exposition in gaming. Something near and dear to my heart. The initial information given about the story/world we game -- which sets the preconditions for the player activity -- together with information gained through game play are key, if for no other reason than players need to act directly on that information. There are lots of ways to deal with presenting that information some gaming has grown heavily reliant on cut-scenes for this very reason.

Wiki had seemed like the ideal tool, but I do find that its lack of organization tools (something I've been reading lately) together with some laziness on my part meant that a lot of information that I thought useful just wasn't being absorbed by the players. So for me a challenge is to start thinking of new tools. I'm a firm believer that information rich gaming is a desired activity. Its developing the right tools to do that that seem so darn hard right now.
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Very rough I promise to work on this sometime )
General feeling was that this was not a failure in the group (players or gms) but more a failure of the chosen rules to expressively match the objectives and that several of the objectives were difficult to achieve with the chosen communication tools.

Immediate thoughts: Consensus and communication as tools of the system.
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I’ve mentioned some discouragement with things lately in Tantaene Animis Caelestibus Irae. Rather than continue to grouse about it, [livejournal.com profile] jeffwik, [livejournal.com profile] peaseblossom and I got together last night to discuss what was going on. As I’ve been talking a lot about summative evaluation I decided it would be a good idea to post what we did. Read more... )
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The problem with finding your group's exact style within anopen-centered game is that it takes time and open, honest communication. You need a healthy group. This isn't to excuse or ignore the rules. It's to find which emphasis suits you best and play with them.


That is pretty much what I'm talking about here. But I'll be honest, its darn hard. Everytime I think the issues with tantaene are resolved we find another one. And frankly its starting to worry me.

Well if I have't exhausted the patience of my players yet I'll keep plugging away and se what I can do. I still believe there are a lot of strengths in this game and I'm still having a laod of fun with it.
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Frank Filz talks about game prep where he defines four different types of preperation:

  1. creative - generating ideas, situation, etc.

  2. mechanical - writing up NPC stats, determining obstacle DCs, etc.

  3. organizational - organizing and neatening up notes, e-mailing notes to all the players, updating a game Wiki, etc.

  4. research - reading National Geographic for ideas, searching in the library for information on power source efficiency or animals resource needs in the desert, reading novels in your setting or genre, or even browsing your module collection to find a suitable module, etc.



I think most games design really does a poor job defining these types of preparation, and as a result do a terrible job at providing tools on preparation. Since preparation is obviously what drives most gms to craziness and probably is a key defining mark between a god and a bad gm its something the hobby should be a lot more concerned about. Especially since I think tools can be developed and put in place here rather easily.

So what do I do? )
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In my design parameters for Tantaene I stated that the mode of the game was dramatic. I also state (all over the place) that this is a fantasy of history. These two starting points necessitate a certain style to my gamemastering, in particular towards conflicts. Read more... )
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Anyone who has gamed with me, or followed my gaming, should not be surprised that I like to think about theme and genre tropes a lot about the games I run, and play in. I’ve long been very clear about spelling them out ahead of time and referring back to them as play continues. I’d like to think that while themes exist in any game, making a conscious decision to place them in the forefront allows one to connect to the story on a deeper level.

That said, I don’t really see the need to have explicit rules to encourage people using the theme. I do believe that adherence to the tropes of genre and theme are ones that everyone should buy into upfront of the game and solely exists on the level of social contract. Anything more than that is stifling, it removes the ability to interpret, and for me any creative encounter is at heart one of interpretation. Any mechanistic attempt to regulate theme just serves to limit the potential of interpretation and limit the fun.
Brief Tantaene musing )

Vienna

Mar. 14th, 2006 09:55 am
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I've been reading a lot about Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Gustav Klimt, Oscar Kokoschka and Arnold Schoenberg among others. Playwrights, painters, musicians. Interesting all. While I knew the last three, the first two are fairly new to me, though I'm familiar with von Hofmannsthal's work with Strauss.

The artisitic classes tendancies towards a policy of escapism and deep attraction to the occult in fin de siecle Vienna is just what I need. With their notions that ideas objective meanings were misconceived and that the "modern" person must leave the moral systems of the past and create new meaning systems for the future. I have to ask myself why the artists of today are so darn boring!
Read more... )
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In a continuing attempt to lay forth my game mastering style on the table to hopefully stem some tendencies I have I want to present my game master cheat sheet for the next session. I’ll be honest this also combats another tendency I’ve had lately, not being prepared for a session. Out next session is the 21st so this gives me plenty of time.Read more... )
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Recent discussion about tantanea has been about where the game has been. Now let us discuss where it is going.Read more... )

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A staple premise of much of genre fantasy and SF is that only through the iron will of heroes can the world be saved - and those heroes are not regular people, they are extraordinary beings. An extreme extent of this viewpoint is that we should all just do as they say, because they know best. While this is strongest of stock genre fantasy/SF (and rightly made fun of) its pretty standard in genre TV (Buffy anyone?), comic books and yes, gaming.

I’m not interested in arguing about wish-fulfillment and political messages and the rest. It’s enough for this post to acknowledge that it exists and then to think of my recent roleplaying, specifically Age of Paranoia and Tantaene Animis Caelestibus Irae.
Read more... )
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The crucial bit of our discussion about mechanics was that in HeroQuest its to darn easy to make contests be about task resolution instead of conflict resolution and when you do that the game doesn’t flow very well, because frankly as a task resolution system Heroquest is rather dull.
Read more... )

I also really think I need to think more about Circumstance Bonuses and how they are being used.
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Initiations )
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The Place of the Dramatic in the Game

We swirled around this one but to be honest I’m not sure we resolved anything other than talked about elsewhere. Maybe someone else can set me straight here?

I take that back somewhat, what this discussion really ended up being about was poor play styles and some bad habits we’ve picked up thanks to the wiki and the wireless. We’ made an addenda to the social contract about no laptops and discussed the advantage of recording sessions so I could get my note taking needs taken care of.
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Last night, at the suggestion of [livejournal.com profile] jeffwik and [livejournal.com profile] peaseblossom, the tantanea group sat down to discuss the health of the game, delving into meta-aspects of the game. I think I’ve had a discussion like this in every long-running game I’ve had at least once, usually more often. It is especially useful for when things have changed, either with the group dynamics or the focus of the game. And in the last few months tantanea has gone through both changes so now was a good time to have the discussion. Obviously this isn’t the first time we’ve had this sort of discussion for tantanea but it was perhaps the most effective.

Peaseblossom had brought up four areas which she had thought needed discussion: The Exoteric/Esoteric as setting; The place of the dramatic in the game; Initiation as a theme; and, how we use mechanics. These formed a pretty good agenda for our discussion, and instead of recapping what everyone said, because frankly I didn’t keep verbatim notes, I instead want to write down my reflections and where I see things going. As these thoughts get rather long I’ll be breaking them into several posts.


  1. The Exoteric and the Esoteric
  2. The Place of the Dramatic in the Game
  3. Initiation
  4. Mechanics
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I like the idea of one-shots, but I'll be honest I'm not so good at the prep work for the games as I want to be. I always seem to be rushing to complete things at the 11th hour. Which is why for Mystery and Decadence, which is tomorrow night by the way, I'm still trying to finish up characters.

Feel free to help!
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As a reminder [livejournal.com profile] my_tallest, [livejournal.com profile] peaseblossom, [livejournal.com profile] jeffwik, Kathryn, [livejournal.com profile] editswlonghair, [livejournal.com profile] bluegargantua, [livejournal.com profile] vampyrusgirl, and hopefully [livejournal.com profile] head58 will be playing in Mystery and Decadence, my 1870s Castle Falkenstein occult game one-shot set in Shangahi, this Thursday. It should be fun.

[livejournal.com profile] head58, whats up with this Wednesday?
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Shanghai, Paris of the East. Shanghai, Whore of the Orient. Shanghai where foreigners carved out concessions and built palatial estates and clubs. The year is 1873 and Shanghai is a city where east meets west and where fortunes are made and lost and new decadences are discovered daily in countless opium dens and gambling joints, in myriad brothels. A city where Chinese, English, French, American mingle uneasily partitioned into Chinese Section, the International Settlement and the French Concession.

This is the city that you make your home. And one eventful September 3rd each of you find yourself in front of one of the most rumored and storied residences in the city. And your lives will never be the same.

Mechanics: Castle Falkenstein

Characters: Characters will be provided by the Gamemaster or may be made in advance with proper discussion.

When: Thursday, January 5th at [livejournal.com profile] jereblossom starting at 7 pm.

Who: Six to Eight of you. I think I have three slots filled so far.

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