Wired offered this nugget for a person who simply wants to understand what an RPG is. Highly recommend.
Books I’m reading
Recently got my addition of Your Best Game Ever by Monte Cook Games. A literal tome about how to have your best RPG; stem to stern—how to find a gaming group to create story arcs for your players. It’s great for new people and seasoned. I’ve been flipping back and forth in the book, just reading excerpts. It’s illuminating.
First class flying.
If you are just starting out or getting back into RPGs, you might be faced with a head scratching problem—picking your class: wizard or rogue for the fantasy types, nerd or jock for the Kids on Bikes or Tales from the Loop people. Maybe you want to be a Glaive or Nano if you’re playing Numenéra. Each class says: this is what I do and this is what I’m good at.
Yep. Picking one means giving up another. Tough choice. If you play a wizard, you might not be skulking in the darkness. If you play a jock, you might not be coming up with Planck’s constant number in order to save the day, but you will be fighting off the flood of robots that have hit the town with your Louisville Slugger.
So what should you pick?
Here’s my best advice. Watch either the movie Ocean’s 11 or Guardians of the Galaxy. Whatever character in those movies wows you the most, pick that. Gamora? Fighter. Starlord. Rogue. Livingston Dell? Wizard. Rusty Ryan. Jock. (Don’t @ me.)
(And I’d love to hear what you picked.)
What Your Characters Carry
I think if you’re playing a D&D type game, and you’re playing a wizard, I think your spellbook matters.
Let me explain. A wizard’s spellbook contains all of her spells. She guards it with her life. But what is that made of? Just . . . paper? Some moleskine something something?
I think the more magicial components you invest into a book, the better your spells become. If the cover is made of ice dragon leather, then your cold spells are better.
If the pages are made from ancient tree, struck by lightning 100 times, then your lightning spells are just better.
But Ryan, how much better? I don’t know, man. It’s your game.
Also, in whatever world you are building, give the players some options on whatever is important to them, well, it should not only be treasured, but actual treasure.
If your character has had this thing for awhile, a sword, a shield, a key or whatever, and they do something remarkable with it—maybe it gets imbued with something. Slay the orc chieftain—that sword now hurts orcs better. Why? Because it knows how.
That shield saved the town’s cleric from a killing blow? It’s holy now.
The key your thief wears around his neck? When she was especially devious, she received a boon (or bane) from an Otherworldly force—the key now glows red at night—and everyone is slightly more afraid. (dun dun dun…)
It doesn’t have to be permanent, perhaps for a limited time only—once the sword doesn’t kill orcs for a long time or it slays its first non-orc then (poof) that magic is gone. Which is fine. If it drives your fighter to only kill orcs and everything else with a weapon she is terrible at, I say, let’s play that game.
In one D&D game I played years ago, I had a dwarf fighter—and he loved his axe. He loved it. He just loved it.
So how could Garok hand over his beloved axe for a magical one we found in dead boss’ treasure hoard? Sure, his wasn’t magical and probably couldn’t compete with monsters we’d face down the line, but—why couldn’t it be magical? Garok wound up keeping both and when the magical axe had to be used, he was sulky about it.
Make the items your characters love and treasure valuable; you’ll be grateful for it because the items start to become a matching pulse of the story.
I recently got Casketland in the mail. It’s a dark western(ish) RPG. It’s gritty and very light on rules (which I’ve grown to love.)
Also I got my two copies of Girl Underground about role-playing in an Alice in Wonderland world. Oooh. Looks good.
A Kickstarter You Might Love
My friend Mike Selinker is doing a Kickstarter for the puzzlers in your life. It’s. . . a lot of puzzles and they are for a worthy cause.
(If you buy both, you get to assemble a special code and then get even more puzzles.)
Let me hear from you.
I would love to know what you are loving right now. (And yes, I finished Stranger Things 3. I’ll have more to say later.) Shoot me a line and I would be grateful if you shared this with a gaming friend.
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