GMing (Part 8): Awarding Experience Points

A variety of medals on blue ribbons lying in a pile, representing the concept of a rewards, which is how many players perceive experience points. The evening is over, and the game is finished for tonight. Everyone is ready to go home. There’s one last thing left to do. It’s finally time to award experience points. For some players, this is, in some ways, the entire point of the game. They see it as a reward for having done a good job. Getting a lot of experience indicates that they’re a proficient gamer. After all, it helps them feel as if they were useful to the completion of the goal. For that reason, awarding experience points is an important and often delicate task.

Depending on the system you’re using, this can be a very easy task, or it can be daunting. Let’s look at some of the intricacies involved in effectively awarding experience. Continue Reading →

Descriptive vs Statistic – An Evolution in RPGs

The current cover art for three descriptive roleplaying games: Bluebeard's Bride, Fiasco, and Fate Accelerated Last week, when I posted the interview with Whitney Beltrán, I had to cut out a lot of material. The transcript of our conversation was over 5,000 words long. I usually try to post articles of around one thousand words. Generally, I keep a thousand five hundred as an upper limit. Even cutting out entire sections of the conversation, it was hard to get the article down to two thousand words. This is especially disappointing to me, as there were some really interesting topics that I had to remove entirely. The interview I posted absolutely stands on its own. It does a great job of communicating the important aspects of the game. But one of the topics I had to eliminate was a discussion of the evolution of roleplaying games. In particular, we discussed how roleplaying games are becoming less statistics-based, and more descriptive. Continue Reading →

Roleplaying: An adventure in imagination

A hand hovers over the table, where several dice have just been rolled. The dice are of different varieties, including d4, d6, d8, and d10.I have talked at some length about board games, and a little about one specific roleplaying game, but I haven’t yet talked in general about my favourite kind of games: roleplaying games. It’s not surprising that I enjoy RPGs; as I’ve mentioned here before, I am a storyteller player type, which means that I most enjoy games that follow Freytag’s pyramid, especially if they involve character growth and the development of interpersonal relationships. Given the right gaming group, roleplaying games are the best vehicle for telling stories as a game that you can hope to find. So I’m going to talk today about this wonderful type of game.

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Social Stigma in Roleplaying Games

A photo from the side of seven board game pawns, six in various shades of red together on one side, and one black by itself on the other side, alone due to its social stigmaI was introduced to GURPS (the Generic Universal Role Playing System, published by Steve Jackson Games) in 1991. I admired the flexibility and adaptability of the system, as well as its realism and the fact that it encouraged rounded, dynamic characters. It didn’t limit possible character traits to attributes and skills, but had mental, emotional, and social advantages and disadvantages. This allowed players to emulate a personality more fully than in games like Dungeons and Dragons. But there was one disadvantage that I have never given a character: Social Stigma. It provides an in-game mechanic for simulating a character that belongs to a group that is deemed by his or her society to be inferior. In looking back on it, I realise that I didn’t fully grasp the possibilities of this disadvantage. Now, I have learned much, and I would love the opportunity to play a character with this disadvantage.

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