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Celebrating Bard Week!

So, yesterday Bard Week started on The Dungeon World Tavern over on Google+. In honor of that, I have made a compendium class for Bards who include breakdancing in their Arcane Performances. You can see it below, but first I’d like you to see this on air hangout I participated in as a kickoff for Bard Week along side Tim Franzke (the host) and Joe Banner! We discussed the class in depth, both the fiction and the moves!

Athosian Wardancer

When you have been tutored in the secrets of the wardancer, you may take this move the next time you level:

Dazzling Wardance
When you make the dance of war as a part of your arcane performance, on a hit you can move between foes without endangering yourself and you get +1 hold next time you defend in this battle.

Once you’ve taken “Dazzling Wardance,” the following moves count as class moves for you. In addition to your normal list of moves, you may choose from this list when you gain a level.

Air Flares
When you make the “air flares” dance move roll+CON. On a 10+ you can briefly fly and can carry a nearby ally into an advantageous position. Your GM will give you a choice between two such positions. On a 7-9 you also get slightly dazed and take -1 forward as you vision keeps spinning for a while.

The Windmill
When you make the “windmills” dance move roll+CON. On a 10+ you create a wave of repulsion that will blow back any enemies at close range. On a 7-9 it goes out of control and you blow away all allies as well.

Street Cred
Your mad dancing skills attract all the b-boys and flygirls in town. When you make a street performance showcasing your latest and most difficult moves roll+CHA. On a hit you attract a group of fans. On a 7-9 they can introduce you to some useful and influential people in the city’s underground. On a 10+ one of the fans has some influence in the city’s underground milieu and is willing to pull some strings for you.

The inspiration for the windmill and air flares was harvested for this neat site, so check it out! It’s a list of the 25 craziest breakdancing moves that’ll be pretty awesome to see even if you don’t normally have any interest in breakdancing.

Back to the tavern…

If you care to celebrate bard week with us, then join us on the tavern! I have a vote going about what other Compendium Classes I should make, so come on in and join the party!

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What is a Roleplaying Game?

What is a Roleplaying Game?.

This game is brilliant! I’m going to try this as soon as I can!

Unsafe and scary: A review of Play Unsafe by Graham Walmsley

Yesterday I bought a book called Play Unsafe, written by Graham Walmsley. It was a pretty inspiring read, and as fate would have it, I actually got to apply some of the theory in a one-shot game of Dungeon World the same day.

The premise of the book is that if we plan less, we play more. Planning is hard work, and it can get pretty boring sometimes, as it quickly becomes a chore. This may not apply to everyone, but it does apply to me. If you buy into this premise, this book can be a real treat.

The book is divided into five chapters: Play, Build, Status, Tell Stories and Work Together. Each of these chapters offer some great advice for improvisation based play, including how to start games, and how to tell interesting stories by not working.

Often, we treat gaming like a job. We study rulebooks, we try to gain an advantage, we care more about experience points than enjoying ourselves.

While I could go in-depth with what the individual chapters are all about, I won’t. It would just be a summary, and I’d much rather share some of the advice from the book.

My favorite piece of advice is “be boring”. It sounds odd, but there’s a really simple trick to it. It’s not about going out of your way to make the other players yawn or anything like that, it’s about not trying to be clever. Instead of spending a great deal of time impressing your fellow players with your wit, which will mostly not work, then instead try to be obvious.

When describing something by being obvious, maybe the effects of an action or your intended action, you can add a great layer of descriptive details, because you already have a clear picture of the scene in your mind. It is after all exactly what you would expect would happen. It might seem brilliant to others however, simply because they haven’t got the same set of expectations as you do.

It is one of those techniques that are so incredibly simple, yet so powerful. I urge you to try it out sometime. In my game yesterday, it was consistently the “obvious” consequences that were more interesting and made the players more enthusiastic.

Another great piece of advice, one that is rare to find in any game mastering guide, is the advice given on starting a game. People make characters, we discuss them a bit, but since we haven’t planned anything, we don’t know what is going to happen. This might sound a little scary, but there’s a really good solution to this, one that goes pretty hand-in-hand with being “boring”; try and start without drama!

Start with a quite undramatic scene, like the heroes entering a tavern. Talk back and forth, describing the seemingly innocent and “boring” stuff in this scene, just to create a mood. Then introduce a tilt! A good example of this is given in the book, where the scene starts with a character walking into the tavern:

Player: “I sit down. ‘Evening, Dave.'”
GM: “The barman looks at you. he flicks his eyes to a tankard of ale he’d poured as you came in. ‘You’ll be wanting that.'”
Player: “‘Yeah,’ I say, drinking it. ‘Quiet in here, isn’t it?'”

Then the tilt is added:

Player: I draw my sword and aim the point at his throat. ‘It’s too quiet, Dave. What have you done with everybody?'”

The tilt creates a sudden situation with a huge potential for drama. It’s great because it also created a mystery; what have Dave done with everybody? The player monkey wrenched the game here, making it interesting. I love that.

The last advice I’d like to highlight is about the cooperative nature of roleplaying games. Walmsley suggests that to have a good game, it is everyone’s responsibility to make everyone else’s character shine. Be a fan of every character! Set the other characters up for success instead of focusing on your own! It’s quite profound in its own way, because it really shows how it’s everyone’s job to make it fun for everyone.

It is an enlightening read, especially if you covet improv like I do. This book will give you advice on how you can improve your game in amazing ways, without having to do any work. The book is only 82 pages long, and is a very light read. I bought it at the low price of 8$ and I would gladly have paid twice that amount.