Skip to main content


#RPGaDay 2018 Day 20: Which game mechanic inspires your play the most?

Success with complications.

I don't like failure; I think as a general rule it's boring. But success with complications is always a great way to make a bad situation just that much worse, in a way that can make for some really fun and interesting narrative options. If it were up to me, I would only ever play in games where failure is impossible without a narrative reason. Failure happens at the narrative level; success with complications happens at the play level, at least in my ideal tablespace.
Recent posts

#RPGaDay 2018 Day 19: What music enhances your game?

Again, this really depends on the game and whether or not I'm playing or running or what have you. The RIFTS game I just storyran leaned heavily on Tell That Devil by Jill Andrews and Neko Case's Hold On, Hold On for mood and setting.

Sometimes, I think about themes for my characters. I had a dwarven knight that used to ride around humming Shostakovich's 5th. And there's a good chance that my newest character will hum chiptunes to themselves, since they're a robot.

#RPGaDay 2018 Day 18: What art inspires your game?

That depends heavily on what game I'm playing, who I'm playing with, whether I'm running the game, and a whole host of other things that have meaning and value. I like art, whether it's fanvids of anime or oil paintings or sculpture or what have you. So you could say that all art inspires my game, and all my games are inspired by art of all kinds.

That said, when it comes to aesthetic choices around personal ideas, I'm particularly fond of Art Deco, Gustav Klimt, His Girl Friday, and anything from Neko Case and the Weepies.

#RPGaDay 2018 Day 17: Describe the best compliment you've had while gaming

I think the best compliment I've ever gotten while gaming was having the entire table I was running all say "whoa" at the same time. I threw them a curveball that in retrospect was completely predictable but in that moment seemed like it was a left-field move, and I've spent the rest of my time running games chasing that twist again.

I'm always grateful for the feedback I get from folk at the table, positive or negative, but that 'whoa' was just a straight-up unabashed note of pure joy.

#RPGaDay2018 Day 16: Describe your plans for your next game

The next game I'm not running is a first-time game from a friend of mine using the 5E ruleset in a SciFi setting. We're doing character creation during the first session, which is next month, and I've already got a half-dozen different ideas for characters. I may end up coming up with an idea for each class.

The next game I'm running is a more complicated question. I just came off of a series of games I storyran over the last couple of years, so I'm a little burnt out on the storyrunner role right now. Which of course hasn't stopped me from brainstorming a bunch of game ideas, none of which feel particularly innovative or original. I always try to find a little spin on the concept that gives people a reason to get invested, and I don't feel like I've found that spin in these ideas yet.

For instance, I have an idea about the players being a group of first-responders in a cyberpunk-dystopian retrofuture, a la "DocWagon" from Shadowrun (but witho…

#RPGaDay2018 Day 15: Describe a tricky RPG experience that you enjoyed

That 'tricky' is doing a lot of heavy lifting, but I'll take it to mean "a situation that could have gone bad or could have been incredibly uncomfortable, but worked out for everyone in the end". In that respect, I think the experience I'd pick was the LARP event where I was leaving town and also had figured out I didn't like LARPing, so I worked up a plotline with the Storytellers to kill my character and in the process rearrange the entire power structure of the game and troupe. There were a lot of people who had the potential to be extremely upset about the loss of either their characters or the loss of significant resources expended to make sure their characters didn't die. Instead, everyone seemed to think it was a great way to really shake things up, and give a bunch of people a chance to maneuver or start new characters. I had a great time during the afterparty when many players came up to me, called me a bad name, and then shook my hand or oth…

#RPGaDay2018 Day 14: Describe a failure that became amazing.

Wow, do I hate this question.

Lots of other people have lots of other stories that take some sort of "critical fail" roll and turn into a really hilarious or moving story where everything pivots on a dime and everyone has a great time and everyone thinks 'yeah, that's why random dice rolls are so cool!' I'm glad that there are lots of people who have had those experiences, and I'm sure they've really enjoyed the ways that they've made stuff happen in interesting directions.

I have no stories like that. Failure, to me, has always been both disappointing and pedestrian. I have no game stories where the "one" roll really made things turn out to be brilliant in the end. In the games that I've played, a failed roll almost universally meant that my character lost agency somehow, or was ineffective, or otherwise managed to completely waste everyone's time. In games that I run, I try to make sure that failure only happens if it's tru…