Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Decline of Dramatic Effect


It's been a while since I wrote about Roleplaying Games... and they've been on my mind lately... ever since I got a new room-mate and been showing him my various collections...

I have a few books with me that I haven't even read. Despite that I still feel like getting other game lines that I'm missing from the overall set. Quite a considerable amount of time ago, I bought a copy of the 20th Anniversary Edition of Vampire The Masquerade as part of a European project to mass order it from the States so we can cut down on the shipping price. I've waited months for the release and then I waited a year to actually get the book since I was moving a lot that year... but when I finally got a stable address, the people behind the project sent the game over to my place.

I didn't have a lot of money at the time. I had to scrape what little I had and I only did it because that is the game that got me into a hobby that would be part of my life for more than half thereof. I have a lot of fond memories of that game. I still remember how I unpacked the box that it came in, how I marvelled at the cover, how I started to run games in school and how I tormented my friend with the fact he borrowed it and then gave it back in pieces...

That was two years ago and I still haven't read the book... and now there's a kickstarter for another game that means a lot to me... I find myself in this strange position where I would love to support it but I'm doing nothing about it due to insufficient funds and the knowledge that even if I have the book, I'll do nothing with it...

I did join a game, A Song of Ice and Fire, at The Roleplay Club. I didn't really get into the game. I think my character just got underused. Every time I wanted to show off his personality, I just hit a brick wall due to the circumstances... or maybe I just didn't know the setting well-enough to make a proper character... on the other hand, it was a gamble to begin with since I don't really like games based on existing properties in general... so I ended up wanting to chat with a friend while other players did stuff... and when I had to go to school for an entire month, I decided to just drop from the game...

Thus, gaming was had, I had some fun but I still feel rather lacklustre about roleplaying games. There's even an open spot at the club for someone to run a game but I just can't seem to find the willingness in me to commit to it. I still can't say I burnt out. I have ideas for games and campaigns, my main issue is deciding between them, and I keep catching myself thinking on how to stat the various characters I used to play in Hero System. I'm certainly not suffering from any sort of creative block. I'm even setting up a solo Skype game with a friend and am looking forward to it... alas, my enthusiasm is still not what it used to be...

I think, as far as the Roleplay Club goes, my issue is mainly that I feel, with the utmost certainty, that I shan't be able to run a game of the type that would please my gaming aesthetics.

Story trumps rules!
I can't help but think about this one Actual Play Thread that I've read on RPG.net a long time ago. There was this once scene that sunk into my mind. The game in question was Werewolf The Forsaken. I should explain a bit about the game but I can't just say it's about werewolves... about being a cursed creature with anger management issues... while there should be a lot of that in a game, it is much deeper than what you'd expect. Werewolves, in that setting, are half-spirit creatures who took upon themselves the task of keeping the physical and spiritual realm in balance. One aspect of that is that spirits will often try and break through the barrier between worlds and anchor themselves to the physical realm, preferably by possessing some mortal.

The scene that sunk deep into my psyche was one in which a werewolf approached his (or her, I'm fuzzy on the details at this point) closest relative who suffered a major trauma (probably by being related to a werewolf and dragged into a lot of unpleasant things) and bargained with a happiness spirit in the form of a happy smiley face to possess the person... because it's better for your sister to turn into a happy monster than to let her suffer through the atrocities she's been witness to.

The whole idea of a player going through the trouble of making that moment a significant part of the game struck me as wonderful. It's not just about how much damage you'll be able to dish out with your Epicly Legendary Sword of Doomy Doom +9000... The Pathos! That's what I want in a game... alas, I had people walk out of the games I run because they were too talky... just before the big fight scene between armies that would last a few sessions!

See, I like fight scenes too, that's why one of my favourite games is Exalted... where the more over-the-top action description you make, the higher your chances of actually pulling it off are... but I want drama in my games too... alas, players who will go beyond the call of looting the bodies are so rare that, in a way, I just gave up trying to game...

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