Friday, 4 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017 – 'How do you find out about new RPGs?' and 'Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016'

Another twofer today.

New RPGs tend to come my way when Robin Farndon excitedly posts something about a Kickstarter campaign. I also see announcements from Onyx Path since backing the fascinating but virtually unplayable Mummy reboot(1), but for the most part that's a matter of curiosity.

This image is relevant to so much in this post.
Okay, I backed the game about anthropomorphic cats, but it's a game about anthropomorphic cats(3).

In broader terms, I get my news on game releases from social media, either because someone (not always Robin, sometimes it's Eleanor Hingley(4)) has taken a shine to something, or is pointing out a Lovecraftian thing to one of the serious Lovecraft completists on my friends list, or because Grant Howitt is releasing something new, blast his enviable blend of creativity and productivity(5).

So, before I get lost in my own footnotes(6), on to the second question.

As is well recorded in this blog, I don't get to game anything like as much as I would like. In the past year, the bulk of what I've managed to play has been the winding down of my online Fate game, Operatives of CROSSBOW, which suffered immensely from something I commented on on Ellie's blog the other day, and in an earlier post about letting other people design your character, which is the ill fit between the spontaneous, near-anarchic back and forth of Fate's core mechanics and the necessary formality that makes online video conferencing so much better for steering committee meetings than casual chat once you involve more than two people. The fundamental problem with CROSSBOW was embodied in the way the players declared their action. Seven in ten times, they would begin 'can I...?' The core concept of Fate is that yes you can, if you tell us how.

Well, that and I think one of my players had been burned once too often by GMs insisting that anything not explicitly mentioned during the planning session – like torches, lockpicks, a spy's pistol, or a hacker's laptop - wasn't there at all.

"All right, so can we get one of these?"
"Do you have an aspect called 'I'm a Spy' on your sheet(7)? Then keep going; I'll tell you when you need to spend a Fate point to have something."
"Cool. What about one of these?"

I'm not judging my players here. Learned behaviours are hard to escape, is my point, and especially when you add the social constraint of that screen and only have a fuzzy webcam image to judge other people's responses by when they're not speaking. There is simply no way that remote gaming of this sort will ever truly stand in for proper tabletopping; at least until immersive telepresencing becomes a thing.

This is basically the online gaming table and I wants it.
The only other game I've played any of is, as I mentioned last time, Tails of Equestria, with which we are introducing my daughter to roleplaying (well, that and Empire,) and that has barely got going thanks to our schedules.

(1) It joins old-school White Wolf's Wraith in the centre of a Venn diagram of 'fascinating mechanical conceit', 'mega-high concept' and 'there are maybe three conceivable combinations of people who could play this without it going off the fucking chain(2).'
(2) Not that I'm saying 'off the chain' is a necessarily bad play style, but it doesn't seem to be what they're going for as a default.
(3) I'm still a little disappointed that they went with Monarchies of Mau instead of presenting the cats as a communist collective under the guiding paw of Chairman Miaow, but I suppose a working game setting was higher on their list of priorities than a one-off pun.
(4) Very occasionally someone else, but like... 80% from that one household. 90% if you count the cats.
(5) Because envy, rather than because I want him to stop producing, although if he could slow down I might be able to afford to back more of his stuff. Or if I hadn't slipped and backed the cats thing. Oh, Kickstarter regret! Such grief you bring me!
(6) Seriously, they'll be in small type once I upload this, but right now they take up pretty much the same space as the text.

(7) Yes they did, pretty much for this reason.