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Ryan Coogler's Memories of Chadwick Boseman


#movies, #ryancoogler, #chadwickboseman, #blackpanther, #mcu



"I inherited Marvel and the Russo Brothers’ casting choice of T’Challa. It is something that I will forever be grateful for. The first time I saw Chad’s performance as T’Challa, it was in an unfinished cut of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. I was deciding whether or not directing BLACK PANTHER was the right choice for me. I’ll never forget, sitting in an editorial suite on the Disney Lot and watching his scenes. His first with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, then, with the South African cinema titan, John Kani as T’Challa’s father, King T’Chaka. It was at that moment I knew I wanted to make this movie. After Scarlett’s character leaves them, Chad and John began conversing in a language I had never heard before. It sounded familiar, full of the same clicks and smacks that young black children would make in the States. The same clicks that we would often be chided for being disrespectful or improper. But, it had a musicality to it that felt ancient, powerful, and African.
In my meeting after watching the film, I asked Nate Moore, one of the producers of the film, about the language. “Did you guys make it up?” Nate replied, “that’s Xhosa, John Kani’s native language. He and Chad decided to do the scene like that on set, and we rolled with it.” I thought to myself. “He just learned lines in another language, that day?” I couldn’t conceive how difficult that must have been, and even though I hadn’t met Chad, I was already in awe of his capacity as actor.
I learned later that there was much conversation over how T’Challa would sound in the film. The decision to have Xhosa be the official language of Wakanda was solidified by Chad, a native of South Carolina, because he was able to learn his lines in Xhosa, there on the spot. He also advocated for his character to speak with an African accent, so that he could present T’Challa to audiences as an African king, whose dialect had not been conquered by the West.
I finally met Chad in person in early 2016, once I signed onto the film. He snuck past journalists that were congregated for a press junket I was doing for CREED, and met with me in the green room. We talked about our lives, my time playing football in college, and his time at Howard studying to be a director, about our collective vision for T’Challa and Wakanda. We spoke about the irony of how his former Howard classmate Ta-Nehisi Coates was writing T’Challa’s current arc with Marvel Comics. And how Chad knew Howard student Prince Jones, who’s murder by a police officer inspired Coates’ memoir Between The World and Me.
I noticed then that Chad was an anomaly. He was calm. Assured. Constantly studying. But also kind, comforting, had the warmest laugh in the world, and eyes that seen much beyond his years, but could still sparkle like a child seeing something for the first time.
That was the first of many conversations. He was a special person. We would often speak about heritage and what it means to be African. When preparing for the film, he would ponder every decision, every choice, not just for how it would reflect on himself, but how those choices could reverberate. “They not ready for this, what we are doing…” “This is Star Wars, this is Lord of the Rings, but for us… and bigger!” He would say this to me while we were struggling to finish a dramatic scene, stretching into double overtime. Or while he was covered in body paint, doing his own stunts. Or crashing into frigid water, and foam landing pads. I would nod and smile, but I didn’t believe him. I had no idea if the film would work. I wasn’t sure I knew what I was doing. But I look back and realize that Chad knew something we all didn’t. He was playing the long game. All while putting in the work. And work he did.
He would come to auditions for supporting roles, which is not common for lead actors in big budget movies. He was there for several M’Baku auditions. In Winston Duke’s, he turned a chemistry read into a wrestling match. Winston broke his bracelet. In Letitia Wright’s audition for Shuri, she pierced his royal poise with her signature humor, and would bring about a smile to T’Challa’s face that was 100% Chad.
While filming the movie, we would meet at the office or at my rental home in Atlanta, to discuss lines and different ways to add depth to each scene. We talked costumes, military practices. He said to me “Wakandans have to dance during the coronations. If they just stand there with spears, what separates them from Romans?” In early drafts of the script. Eric Killmonger’s character would ask T’Challa to be buried in Wakanda. Chad challenged that and asked, what if Killmonger asked to be buried somewhere else?
Chad deeply valued his privacy, and I wasn’t privy to the details of his illness. After his family released their statement, I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him. Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display. I will tell stories about being there for some of the brilliant sparks till the end of my days. What an incredible mark he’s left for us.
I haven’t grieved a loss this acute before. I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren’t destined to see. It leaves me broken knowing that I won’t be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take.
It hurts more to know that we can’t have another conversation, or facetime, or text message exchange. He would send vegetarian recipes and eating regimens for my family and me to follow during the pandemic. He would check in on me and my loved ones, even as he dealt with the scourge of cancer.
In African cultures we often refer to loved ones that have passed on as ancestors. Sometimes you are genetically related. Sometimes you are not. I had the privilege of directing scenes of Chad’s character, T’Challa, communicating with the ancestors of Wakanda. We were in Atlanta, in an abandoned warehouse, with bluescreens, and massive movie lights, but Chad’s performance made it feel real. I think it was because from the time that I met him, the ancestors spoke through him. It’s no secret to me now how he was able to skillfully portray some of our most notable ones. I had no doubt that he would live on and continue to bless us with more. But it is with a heavy heart and a sense of deep gratitude to have ever been in his presence, that I have to reckon with the fact that Chad is an ancestor now. And I know that he will watch over us, until we meet again."
-- Ryan Coogler, director, "Black Panther".
#movies #ryancoogler #chadwickboseman #blackpanther #mcu blackpanther chadwickboseman mcu movies ryancoogler


 

Interesting article from Pelgrane about the state of the RPG Market


#Tabletop, #RPGs

View from the Pelgrane’s Nest – June 2006
The following article about the state of the roleplaying industry in the mid-2000s originally appeared on DyingEarth.com in June 2006.

Is the RPG Industry Screwed?


When you depend on live game designers for sustenance, the health of the ecosystem which allows them to thrive is of paramount importance. Whilst everyone has an opinion on this subject, I asked people who make their living from the roleplaying games – publishers, distributors and retailers – how they think the RPG industry is doing. A polite-worded request is often misunderstood (many of them are brain-addled from an excess comics and food additives) so I screamed “Is the RPG Industry Screwed?” in their ear and suspended them over my squawking progeny as usual. The responses were interesting, varied, and inconclusive.

I’ll start with a successful company, running a business on a fairly traditional model, Mongoose Publishing. Without the irritating self-effacement and modesty typical of the British, co-owner Matthew Sprange said:
At Mongoose, we believe that a good RPG book still has the potential to blow through entire print runs and that sales of 10,000+ units are still achievable with the right product. Because of this, we are still expanding in terms of both sales and staff (we now employ over 20 people worldwide), and plan to support RPGs for at least the next five years. Many companies are being squeezed out of the market at the moment but we take this as an indication of a customer base that has become more refined in its choice of product, rather than one who will buy anything that has a D20 on the cover. At the end of the day, if you produce the right kind of book, people will come to you.

Hard figures, I said. Hard figures. He told me as an example that Starship Troopers blew through 6000 copies in 3 months. That’s a large number – greater than the total sales units for each of the majority of RPG companies in a year.

Aldo Ghiozzi, who represents a number of RPG publishers as a consolidator and marketing agent has been selling through distribution for a number of years. He has a lofty perch – I respect any creature with a lofty perch – above the three-tier distributor model. He said:
Technology has come around to make book publishing easier for the common writer. Between PDF purchasing and Print-On-Demand (POD), the barrier of entry has dropped considerably. One would think this would create a new Golden Age of RPGs; it has done the opposite. With the barrier of entry being so low, there are more options for consumers to spend their dollars on. The flood of the D20 market was just the beginning; now, RPGs are for every genre, system and an endless number of people creating their own systems. Imagine a consumer that spends $10 a month on RPG books. Five years ago their choices were between the 100 products on the store shelves, thus, a publisher would have a 1 in a 100 chance for that $10. Now, there are so many choices for the shelves that retailers cannot carry them all so it spills into online stores and PDF download stores. The 100 choices turn into 1000 — now that publisher has a 1 in 1000 chance for that $10. The dollars are being spread thinner; that is the reality.

Personally, I believe the best chance for publishers to survive or come into this market with a chance is with proven brands and even licenses. Licenses, like Serenity or Starship Troopers instantly breathe recognition with the consumer and influences the dollars to that product. Proven brands, like a new edition of Paranoia or the mimicking of Keep on the Borderlands through the Dungeon Crawl Classics series are great examples.

It’s all about being heard over everyone else and the only way to do that is to scream louder.

His views are supported by the Starship Troopers sales figures, although we don’t know the terms of their license (for reference, the Babylon 5 license was $65,000). I asked Mr Ghiozzi if he thought the size of the market was the same. He was sceptical.
…we are not seeing 50K unit sales as before, but there are a ton more choices now so for all we know, the same amount of dollars are being spent (proportional to the economy) but just spread thinner. I truly doubt that though.

Green Ronin have been publishing RPGs since 2000, and use a combination of traditional print and PDF publishing. Chris Pramas, the CEO said:
You have to put RPGs in their historic perspective. Really, they have been in decline since the creation of collectible games in the early 90s. It’s hard to remember now, but in the late 70s and early 80s RPGs were a good business to be in. They eclipsed wargames and dominated the market for many years. Since then we’ve seen significant events in our own industry, the two most important being ‘Magic: the Gathering’ creating a whole new category of game, and Games Workshop hitting upon a business model that redefined miniatures games. In the same period we’ve also seen computer/console games become increasingly sophisticated and immersive, and the development of MMOs. In light of these events the old RPG business model has a tough time competing. Once players have a core rulebook, they don’t need to buy anything else to enjoy the game. Contrast that with the collectible games, where not only can you sell people the same product over and over again, but also they have to keep up with each new expansion to stay competitive. Or MMOs, where players pay each month for the privilege of continuing to play.

The d20 boom made some folks think the glory days of RPGs were back. While that was indeed a good time for RPG publishers, it could never last and now the gale has blown itself out. One might even argue that it did more harm than good, since most game stores now have hundreds of d20 books that will never move and this makes selling them new RPG product even harder.

So is the RPG market screwed? Well, certainly it is harder to harder to make a living doing traditional RPG publishing. The market decline that was paused by the d20 boom came back with a vengeance in 2003. Since then the successes have been fewer and farther between and more and more RPG publishing activity has moved online. I suspect that the future has already taken shape. There will be maybe 10 RPG companies that will do well enough with traditional RPG publishing to keep forging ahead. The rest of the market will be PDFs and Print on Demand, largely sold direct to consumers. Until someone comes up with a way to radically redefine RPGs anyway. That may be a long wait though.

Chad Underkoffler of Atomic Sock Monkey – creator of the award-winning Dead Inside, slipped through the “makes a living filter” – he has a separate day job – but he is representative of large part of the RPG publisher market.
I wouldn’t say that the RPG Industry is “screwed” so much as “challenged.” For many small press publishers — and I mean “small” in relation to other RPG companies, because nearly all of them could be considered “small press” compared to mainstream publishers – there are difficult issues to surmount in acquiring an audience of customers. Even access to the distribution system is little help, since the number of retail outlets seems to be shrinking. So you have more companies (some with fantastic games to compete with) trying to reach fewer shelves, and therefore customers.

The costs of production are up, the discounts on MSRP for distributors and retailers are substantial, and the customers are reluctant to spend money on unknown or new products. And while PDF-published, Print on Demand (PoD), and direct sale methods help put more money in the publisher’s pocket, the overall amount of profit is low. Truth & Justice is my best selling game, at roughly 525 copies (mostly PDF, but some PoD and distro) sold in under a year. I’ve made around $4,000 profit from it, which is definitely not enough to live on in my major metropolitan area. However, it is enough money to handle a car payment, take care of the phone bill, and roll into a new product for sale.

I doubt that the game industry can support many publishers as their sole employment under the current state of the market, and the outlook isn’t much brighter for distributors and retailers unless they diversify heavily into other product lines and related-but-different types of products (books, comics, toys, etc.). However, as a second job (or a hobby that pays for itself then a little extra, or even a method of artistic expression), the game industry is an admirable fit. If you adjust your expectations of what the industry will do for you, it will not seem totally screwed, but simply a challenge.

The ubiquitous Gareth-Michael Skarka of Adamant Entertainment, and Phil Reed of Ronin Arts, both big players in the PDF market, produce ePublishing 101 e-zine for their fellow publishers. In the latest issue, they bemoan the status of traditional retail.

From approximately 2000 game stores in January 2004 to somewhere around 1200 stores in December 2005 represents an overall loss of at least 40%. Not a good outlook for retailers in this industry.

They also estimate that the total size of the RPG market is about $25 million, with PDF publishing representing between 8-14% of the market – but that proportion is growing. With the relatively low barriers to entry mentioned by Aldo Ghiozzi, and the legs that such products have, pdf publishing is a good way for publishers to connect directly with their customers without pawning the family silver.

In contrast to Aldo’s lofty view, Ben Lehman , creator of the Polaris RPG, comes at the question from down on the ground. He is a new model publish with roots in the Forge – a forum dedicated to creator-owned publishing, with lots of useful RPG game theory. Some of the best games of recent years have come out of the Forge. With typical Forgeite thoroughness, he unasks the question, one which was begging to be knocked down:
I think it’s really strange how people talk about the RPG Industry as if it, and its screwedness or unscrewedness, were somehow the most central or most important thing about role-playing. To me, that’s turning the entire world upside down. It’s such a bizarre way of thinking about it that I can’t even twist my mind into a position where I can see that as the world at all. So instead of talking about what’s actually important to role-playing – the activity itself. Let’s talk about a bunch of people getting together to imagine things together, because that’s what interests me. From my immediate perspective – which is to say my personal play-groups – role-playing has never been better. I and the people I play with are having absolutely thrilling times with basically every single game we play.

Looking out further, I can look into the play-groups that I see from the Actual Play forums on the Forge, RPGNet, ENWorld, and other community sites. Again, I think that over the last 5 years (and I think this trend extends back almost a decade, but I can only talk from my own perspective, and I started hanging out on online forums five years ago) we’re seeing an across the board increase in actual, enjoyable play. I’m seeing a lot less of “fix my broken group” and a lot more of “man, our play rocked.” Further — and more importantly I’m seeing a glacially slow but nonetheless constant movement away from the periodical/collector/fandom model of enjoyment, and more towards creative focus and real play. In this respect, and that’s what matters, I think that role-playing is at its healthiest state since the 70s.

So where does role-playing text and materials production (the ndustry) fit into this? The role-playing business – like any other hobby business – should exist as long as it can boost and support the hobby around it, and no further. Fortunately, and I think not coincidentally, given the upsurge in enjoyable play, we’re seeing a decrease in the periodical “must buy the next sourcebook” model and an increase in texts and materials focused on supporting real people and their real play. To be clear – I don’t think that this is a Forge only or Independent only phenomenon. I think it is spread wide across games like: Breaking the Ice, Nobilis, Eldritch Ass-Kicking, Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 and up, Ganakagok, Hollywood Lives! and so on.
Literally, there are too many game texts to list.

Now, traditionally, RPG text publishing has used what’s been called the “three tier model” although I actually think its six-tier: Designer -> Line Editor, Publisher -> Distribution Company -> Retailer -> Game Player, where each arrow is representing “sells to.” In the 70s and 80s and even into the early 90s this was the most financially sound model of game sales, and so it prospered. But these days it isn’t doing so hot, for several reasons. The one that I have the strongest grasp on is the growth of internet forums, internet commerce (and the PDF), and digital printing technology (AKA print on demand). In the six-tier system, there is economic and creative compromises at every level. The end results is that both the game player and the designer get screwed — the designer has to make artistic compromises and gets paid no money and the game player gets a watered down product and has to pay a lot of money, because each level in between needs to take their cut. By using modern technology I as a designer (to use an example — there are dozens of other folks like me) can sell directly to the game player. The chain becomes Designer -> Game Player. This is not only massively more profitable on both ends (I make more money, the game player saves more money) but also it brings the two creative ends of the spectrum closer together, allowing for game texts and game play which contains astounding creative content.

The role-playing industry, if we evaluate its success based on how well it facilitates awesome play, is healthier than it has ever been, period. The role-playing industry, when we evaluate its success based on facilitating awesome play, is as healthy as its ever been, period. The only possible view I have of role-playing being in trouble is that certain aspects of the role-playing distribution chain are being eclipsed by an economic model that is more effective in both creative and monetary terms, and as a player and designer I just can’t see that as a bad thing.

Eric Gibson of West End Games says that the RPG-only publisher as a mainstream company is effectively dead, and that publishers must diversify.
Absolutely. Without a doubt. But, before you think I’m being a pessimist and over-dramatic, I must expound.

The RPG industry is “screwed” because the question demands it’s so. You ask in the “RPG Industry” is headed for disaster. As long as we force ourselves into the narrow classification of “RPG Industry” then we the publishers are screwed as well. The successful publisher or manufacturer will see the ever evolving tastes and desires of our customers and change with them to bring new types of products to market. We are not a part of the “RPG Industry” we are apart of the “Game Industry”, or, if you will, the “Entertainment Industry”. As long as there are firms that continue to look at the broader market, we’ll survive. If others continue fly the flag of “RPG Publisher” solely, they have a choice, embrace it as merely a cottage industry, keeping costs as low as humanly possible, but never expecting to be financially successful OR continue to pump massive-a relative term, I know-amounts of money into a behemoth that doesn’t want to come back, and die!

This certainly does not mean RPGs will cease to exist as a viable product. Not for some time anyway. What it does mean is that you must acknowledge the scale that the RPG business has taken and embrace it.

Basic economics tells us that as long as long as a product’s revenues equals ALL its costs (don’t forget all your opportunity costs, of course) then the product is making “normal profits” and should be produced. The bite is, that is growing nigh impossible in RPGs from the perspective of a normal industry.

As I tend to do, I’m going to ramble on far longer than I should to try to make my point. Let’s first start by not using the term cottage industry. We have nearly always been, by and large, a cottage industry, and with the advent of the Internet, a cottage industry does not have to equate to small, struggling, or profit-less. Instead, RPGs is becoming a purely hobby industry-pun not intended. A hobby industry is an industry where the primary source of compensation, for the proprietor, is something other than money-love of the game, I guess you’d say.

In order to make “normal profits” within any business model your revenues must equal the costs associated with the business. Again, ALL COSTS. Not simply the break even point on printing. Not just the overhead. By you must also factor in salaries for executive positions and-this is very important-you must cover the opportunity costs for the owner(s), such as the cost of not working a second, paying job, not having more time with family, and not being able to invest the money you’ve put into the business on other gainful investments. All these costs, and many, many more, must be recognized and paid for by the business’s revenues. In a normal industry, a business that fails to meet these costs must logically cease business (given the time to exit fixed cost responsibilities). The current and foreseeable state of RPG publishing means that it is almost impossible to meet these fairly valued opportunity costs and thus make “normal profits”. So, instead we have proprietors who choose to ignore these opportunity costs and often forego monetary compensation and do it instead for the “love” of the industry. I’m not suggesting this is an invalid reason to do it, but that certainly makes the RPG industry a hobby industry and not a “normal” industry.

So, the question asked, “By this, I mean the market for table-top RPGs. I’m not asking if a small cottage industry will continue to exist – just whether it’s in decline and will continue to decline.”

Sadly, the answer is, “almost certainly.” But again, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. To know it up front, it’s actually very good. If you want to simply make RPGs and sell them as a hobby, by all means you should do so.

Likewise, if you want to run a game company as a normal industry would, you should also be aware that you’re not likely to be able to do so as a dedicated RPG publisher. Diversify. Realize that the business and the market have changed drastically since the late 90’s.

The market wants something else. Provide that “else” and you can stay in business and do just fine and may even have a good chance of making normal profits (or even super-profits).

Is the industry screwed? Only if we fail to see the writing on the wall.

Now we here from a different tier of the industry, a major retailer – Marcus King of Titan Games. He’s having to adapt, and like Eric Gibson, suggest that diversifying into entertainment is the way to go.
As a retailer in a very small town (60K population in the city, with 100K TOTAL in the county) I face some unique problems. First, Michigan has a working class slump like nowhere else – the economy is depressed, young people FLEE this town in search of jobs elsewhere. Second, I have a competitor across town who sells everything for 20% off MSRP. Third, I derive 100% of my income from this company. No outside job, no retirement supporting me, my wife works IN the store with me. I can NOT discount, and support my family.
So, we have two ebay sellers working pretty much full time, two websites (titangames.com and 3FREEgames.com), and we have a retail store, do conventions, and some “liquidation” sales.

Now [our stock depth], was designed to make us a destination store. But, that just does not work. Destination stores no longer compete with everyone within driving range, they compete with everyone within clicking range. Every single thing we sell is available on eBay and/or Amazon, for less. So, though we do well online, our main in store categories are used DVDs, CDs with games come in a distant 4th or 5th

We are going to start stocking fewer RPGs in the store – moving from 1400 or so books today, to perhaps 50 titles, and perhaps 200 books total. I am going to stop buying one or two of everything, and start selecting what we carry in the retail store more based on the idea that 80% of our sales come from 20% of our stock, so stock that 20%, and eliminate about 75% of the rest of it.

What will that leave? D&D, True20, Conan, Traveller, Serenity, Star Wars (if it is ever available), Babylon 5, most supplements by Troll Lord Games, and Goodman Games, some stuff by Mongoose and Green Ronin, and everything White Wolf makes. L5R and Spycraft, and a few others. My store is literally morphing OUT of being a game store, and becoming more and more an entertainment store – with books, movies, music, comics, games and some collectible stuff.

However, I could likely fire my retail staff, shrink my store by 70% floor space, eliminate 90% of my games inventory, just carry the DVDs, CDs, Video Games, and keep one rack of Graphic Novels, one rack of Comics, and one rack of games, and run the retail counter with one person, and never miss a beat as far as sales go.

As a business person first, and gamer ninth or tenth, I look at ALL the options for my business – and it may indeed come to the point where I completely redefine my store around a smaller selection, smaller square footage, and smaller staff on the retail floor – and just carry games as a sideline. Then what do we call the store? Titan Games sure won’t fit.

Jeff Tidball, a long-time award-winning RPG freelancer gives a straightforward answer:
Yes, the RPG industry is more-or-less screwed. You can divide roleplayers into two general camps based on style of play, with smash-and-grab-and-level-uppers on one side, and everyone else (storytellers, world-builders, wanna-be novelists, etc.) on the other. The first, much larger, group is now — with current network and console technology — much better served by computer RPGs than tabletop RPGs. The computers are just plain better and faster at the game experience they want. As those customers stop buying tabletop RPGs, it stops being economically viable to produce them professionally for the second group. Tabletop RPGs won’t go away, but yes, the “industry” that produces them is screwed.

So the D&D crowd will moving over to MMORPGs and the rest will be indulging in a little bit of narrativist theatre? Perhaps.

Mark Simmons, founder of National Games week and publisher of Games Quarterly Catalog & Games Quarterly Magazine thinks that the industry is still suffering from the d20 glut:
RPGs got seriously glutted. Worse than the glut of ’79-81. Worse than the small glut of early ’90s. The d20 boom ran it course with so much product that gamers got enough resource materials to last years. It eclipsed nearly every non-d20 title, killing many good games. It will take time for these circumstances to be overcome. It will take getting RPGs back into stores. R Talsorian is doing decently with Cyberpunk’s new edition, FanPro is doing well with Shadowrun and BattleTech. It’s going to be grim for a while though.
The specialty game stores won’t be stocking and selling enough, so book stores and other types of stores must be courted.

Matt Goodman of Heliograph says:
Table-top role playing is a niche hobby, and like many other niche hobbies (wargaming, pulps, r/c planes, model railroading) over the long haul it is only sustainable as a cottage industry. Die-hards may pass along the bug to their kids–a friend’s 7 and 9 year olds are really enjoying their Star Wars game, and the very best player I had at my Zeppelin Age games at Gen Con last year was in high school–but that isn’t enough to sustain the hobby in the mass market.

So, is there anything coherent to be gathered from these disparate views?

The game store is facing hard times, and none can rely on RPGs alone. An online mail order presence which is able to compete on price is pretty much essential. Leisure Games in the UK is an example of this model. The three-tier system is on shaky ground when it comes to RPGs. Some publishers with well established brands and main stream licenses can still shift sufficient books to make the margins needed to keep going. I think this will continue, but such publishers are not solely producing RPGs – Mongoose Publishing for example relies on RPGs for only 40% of its sales. So what stops new publishers from getting to market? I call it the litho barrier. Unless you have the up-front costs for litho (standard) printing, and the certainty of selling through the print run, you can’t do a litho print run, and your per-unit cost for low-run printing means you will make low or even zero margins through the usual channels. The typical volume of sales of an individual title has declined below the litho barrier following the recent glut of d20 titles an explosion in the number of publishers, and a reduction in the number of players due to improvements in the computer moderated online roleplaying experience.

Hybrid publishing, offering PDF and print-on-demand roleplaying games offer a scaleable model for getting RPGs to their customers without the high risks of attempting the litho barrier. They can sell directly, at conventions, and through specialist online mail order retailers. Forge publishers typically follow this model, and make a very big internet footprint, interacting directly with their customers. Such publishers are actively seeking out players to “tell them about their characters” through Actual Play postings. The idea of signing an NDA when doing a play test is an anathema – they are more likely to publish the beta version of their rules online for anyone to try. PDF-only publishers are on the increase, with rpgnow.com, drivethrurpg.com, enworld.org, e23 and paizo.com all channels to market. Their products have low overheads, can be small, and have decent legs. Still, few people other the etailers are making a living out of this so far.

Paradoxically, it’s never been easier to get an RPG published, but never harder for a new RPG company to support full-time endeavour. The scalability of the new publishing model means that although it is very hard to make money, you are much, much less likely to lose it through an expensive litho print run. If you read that someone you haven’t heard of is about to print 3000 copies of a new RPG, by all that’s holy, stop them.



Which view held out? (And pretty strange to see Skarka listed as an industry icon given what has happened in the interim)
#Tabletop #RPGs RPGs Tabletop


 

RPGaDay2020 Prompt 31 - Experience


Reposted from https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-31-experience

Image/Photo

#rpg, #RPGaDay2020, #Tabletop

**Prompt:** Experience

I've tried to do these before, but have never kept up with them past the first few days. With the exception of the last couple of days of the month, this time I did it!

1. What does that show me?
It is possible for me to keep up with a blog for an extended period of time.
2. What was different this time?
I've been trying this new method of planning out my day- keeping a [Zettelkasten](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zettelkasten), and having daily notes. I put this, [another prompt that I was working on personally](https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jeeyonshim/wait-for-me-0), and my agile board for completing my campaign on it. I also tried to put everything for the day, and as I did things, I moved them to the completed area of the board. I also indicated what I was going to carry over. It's been helpful to me as I have pursued purchasing a house also, as there are a lot of little things that you have to do when going through that process. But for the other two areas it was helpful also- and pretty much in every area, including work. The tags and maps help me to get back to everything later.
3. Why did I miss the last couple of days?
Moving, which I think is a pretty acceptable excuse. But it also lets me know that I can have things interrupt, and because it is my deadline, as long as I'm disciplined enough to come back to it, that's OK too.
4. What about #RPGaDay2020 in particular?
It was a fun exercise. Some of the days were a bit challenging and forced me to think outside of the box. Some were a bit light because of that fact, but I think I made some interesting entries. It might be a bit harder to come up with topics for a blog outside of this, but this experience has caused me to seriously think about continuing, even if just for my sake.

Thanks to all that followed and/or commented! And thanks to the organizers!
#rpg #RPGaDay2020 #Tabletop rpg RPGaDay2020 Tabletop


 

RPGaDay2020 Prompt 30 - Portal


Reposted from https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-30-portal

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Prompt: Portal

A strange one. This one first sparked in me a memory of Portal. And from there... well you'll just have to go with me on this one. Portal is a game from Valve. It is a pretty unique game- or at least it was- that had a few things going on. First of all, you didn't know the whole story, or pretty much any of the story starting out. You were a blank slate. It was a first person game, where your only weapon was a portal gun that you learned how to use while solving puzzles. You could point it in one place, and make a portal, then another place, and make another. Then you could travel through them. Or push things through them. There was more to it, but that's not relevant to where this stream of consciousness took me...

... how many times have their been unique mechanics implemented in RPGs that invoke the feel just from playing? I love aspects in Fate, because they can be anything - especially with the Bronze Rule (Fate Fractals). But I'm not really familiar with any other games that even come close to the idea.
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RPGaDay2020 Prompt 29 - Ride


Reposted from https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-29-ride

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Prompt: Ride

I remember when I was younger, the hardest thing (next to finding people who wanted to play) was finding transportation to get to a gaming session. I spent about two hours on the bus to make it across town to a friend's house in large part because the bus didn't go directly to his house. And I remember more than once having to run after the last bus because I'd cut it too close, though I never actually missed the bus to come home. I also had to ride the bus to the store in order to even buy them as the city only had a few places to find them.

As I grew older, there were more people to play, and more places to buy the books, but even though the number of players is not decreasing, the number of stores where you can buy the books is rapidly doing so. Though I can buy from Amazon and other places on line, nothing compares to browsing in a store. The only places close that I can do that (or could before the pandemic) was Barnes & Noble. I wonder if I should gain more of a tolerance for a long ride to support those that are an hour away- after all, I did it when I couldn't drive...
#rpg #RPGaDay2020 #Tabletop rpg RPGaDay2020 Tabletop


 

RPGaDay2020 Prompt 28 - Close


Reposted from https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-28-close

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Prompt: Close

If there's one thing consistent about Tabletop Gaming stores - it's that they close.

I can rattle off a few names: Oxford Games and Comics, The War Room, Sword of the Phoenix- there are many more. Making a living off of a niche industry is hard, and you learn to adapt or die. I worked for years for a game shop, and the owner stopped adapting. For a while he did, branching out into Poker Chips (as big a seller as Magic cards, believe it or not), Chilmark (another big seller), How to Host a Murder, Osprey Books - whatever he needed to do in order to turn a profit and allow the game store to remain in business. He became a distributor, supporting shops in smaller towns that the larger distributors wouldn't supply with favorable terms, and moved from prestigious places to others that were less so when the years became leaner. We'd even set up an online store for the shop, hoping that would bring more business in (and it helped me get some web work under my belt while I was in college), but nothing worked. I remember talking to him before the decision came down, and he said that he'd put away a lot from the best years, but it had been a few years since he actually turned a profit. With Diamond/Alliance swallowing up all of the smaller distributors, it was rare that he was able to actually get favorable terms by going direct. He could keep the place open for a few more years on the liquidity that he had in the business, or call it a day, and chose to do the latter, though he really didn't want to do so.

Now with the pandemic and quarantines, I'm not sure how many more that were just hanging on like he was will be forced to close. I can personally get games from Amazon pretty easily, but I'd rather support someone- but what do you do when there's no one to support. The closest store to me is almost an hour away. And given the shrinking number of stores, how long until there will truly be no one to support? It's a sad thought, but I don't really know of any real solutions.

What are some thoughts on how game stores can survive and even thrive in these troubling times?
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RPGaDay2020 Prompt 27 - Favour


Reposted from https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-27-favour

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Prompt: Favour

Though many adventures start with doing someone a favor, this particular spelling of the word directed my mind to another definition of the word- favour given by a patron or organization. When running a game, I like for my cities to be alive, and not revolve around the PCs. But I also want the PCs to be embroiled in the operations and invested in the outcome. It's hard to have a good balance between a patron railroading the PCs actions and being entangled with them of their own volition. I was able to get partway there with the city creation rules in Fate- first in The Dresden Files RPG, and then with Fate Core as it had it baked in. The organizations had their own Aspects that the PCs could find out about and tag for effect, helping to build the narrative around them. But this still gave little mechanical benefit when the organizations were not directly involved. I recently did a playtest for Swords of the Serpentine by Pelgrane Press, and the final piece of the puzzle slotted itself into places- the PCs have ratings with the different organizations- both positive and negative- to indicate their involvement. These ratings are fluid- as the PCs have positive or negative interactions with the groups, their ratings increase and decrease, and with an increased rating comes an increased presence, increased support, and increased obligation. This allowed for the PCs interactions to have an impact on how they maneuvered in the city, and made the city seem more alive in play. I just need to find out some way to represent the dealings that the organizations have with each other in a more dynamic manner without having to manually work these angles or randomly generate them.
#rpg #RPGaDay2020 #Tabletop rpg RPGaDay2020 Tabletop


 

Tabletop QOTD 2020-08-27


Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora #CheckIn in order to get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

Do you generally play rules-as-written (RAW) or have house rules to better tailor your game to your group?

For #RPGs, I generally find that because of the open nature of the type of game, some forms of rulings are necessary as GM. In order to make those consistent, I usually codify them. In some cases, even before the game starts, I find some things that I feel need tweaking.

For #BoardGames, it really depends on whether it is a classic game or not. I find that in many cases if you read the rules of games that you've played for a long period of time, there are rules that you've never implemented, or are not quite like you remember. An example is Monopoly and rolling to get out of Jail. We just recently found out that after the third roll you have to pay. For newer games we pick up, we play by the rules.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
@UnclePirate (Stan McCann)

RAW almost never cover enough edge cases. Sometimes it is enough to go with the apparent intent, and other times a re-write is needed. But then Rules As Remembered can drift from RAW ... so what actually gets played can vary from the RAW. When we spot this divergence, sometimes we correct the RAR and sometimes we go with it.

I tend to play RAW as much as possible. If i use a house-rule, I introduce it to the players before using it, and make sure everyone is on board.
The exception is when a situation is not covered by the rules, in that case I usually re-read the rules to make sure I'm not missing something, and if the rules really don't cover the edge case, we try to come up with a solution together that's both fun and holds true to the game
#%



 

RPGaDay2020 Prompt 26 - Strange


Reposted from https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-26-strange

#rpg, #RPGaDay2020, #Tabletop

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Prompt: Strange

How do you inject a feeling of strangeness into your game? Not outright horror, though it can descend to that. But the subtle feeling that something is not quite right, to get the players' attention without crossing over that line to the obvious? I find the use of the other four senses a good way of calling attention to something that gives a creeping suspicion that the players are walking into something on the wierd side. The faint sound of flapping in the wind like the wings of a wounded bird. The sudden rise of goosebumps as the wind chills a few degrees. The cloying smell of decaying flowers. The heat parching the throat, making the player swallow. The slimy feel of the bannister, leaving a bitter, tingling residue on the hand. Even better, use the senses in strange ways, twisting expectations. The taste of copper on the tongue, heavy in the air. There is also the negative use of senses. The most obvious used ones are the wildlife going silent, but an example could also be the sudden stillness of the air.

The use of metaphors or onomatopoeia (as long as they don't fall into overuse) can also signal that things are a bit off. The delivery of these concepts is as important as what is actually said- if you're trying to jar your players, then even how you say it should invoke that dissonance. "As you make your way through the forest- SNAP!" This communicates viscerally that the player's stealth was compromised. "As your movements disturb the night, the natural sounds die down, and you hear swift movement in the forest off of your left shoulder."

How do you communicate foreboding strangeness to your players?
#rpg #RPGaDay2020 #Tabletop rpg RPGaDay2020 Tabletop

Interesting ideas ... I guess I'd just interject random observations such as "The door is rectangular. It has four sides."

In a video game or visual media, this wouldn't even register as strange. It's just normal. But if you're narrating to players that they notice "the door is rectangular" it's a red flag. It's like ... Okay ... umm ... that's normal. Why mention it?

@CitizenZero - Good point! I actually support Tabletop Audio because it's cool and I like to support cool stuff, but I haven't been able to integrate it into my games easily- mostly because they're virtual.

@Isaac Kuo - that's really sneaky! I have to remember that one- state the obvious in order to throw them off their game.



 

RPGaDay2020 Prompt 25 - Lever


Reposted from https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-25-lever

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Prompt: Lever

When we played Rolemaster the companions were a bit overwhelming with all of the options, so we had to pare them down. Same with GURPS. This was my first introduction to Levers in designing a campaign. There are some systems that are ready built, and anything you do to them are outside those parameters are homebrew rules, and not necessarily well received or expected by the players. I like those well enough. But the toolkit RPGs GURPS, Fate (and FUDGE), Rolemaster- those were my bread and butter, being able to tweak little things by using optional rules that were included. Those made me prepared for using engines to design hacks- Powered by the Apocalypse, Forged in the Dark, GUMSHOE, Rooted in Trophy- those systems that are released to be able to adapted.
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Tabletop QOTD 2020-08-25


Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora #CheckIn in order to get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

What's your gaming life like these days?

Sorry for the long silence- I've been pretty much keeping up with my #RPGaDay2020 posts, but realized I'd not posted anything here recently!

I know that people are getting used to a new normal, and wondered what everyone's gaming life looked like these days?

For #RPGs, my gaming has picked up, with people becoming much more amenable to meeting digitally. For someon that doesn't really like to go out that much, pushing myself to find a group with strangers, and then go to it is asking a bit much. But virtual, there's more of an appeal, and I'm currently playing campaigns of Pathfinder, Exalted, Silent Legions, and Lords of Olympus. I'm also finishing up a Fate World that I was working on, and will be starting a playtest of that, and hopefully getting my Swords of the Serpentine group back together now that I have the final text.

#BoardGames, on the other hand, have fallen by the wayside. Those were, for the most part, just pickup games, with the family, or when friends came by. My daughter is more interested in making preparations to start her new life, and no one else is coming over, so there's not much in the way of boardgames going on.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
@UnclePirate (Stan McCann)

I was thinking they would do both, there would be in person panels and digital ones, in person demos and digital ones.

It seems like having a tabletopia version of your game is the new norm. As a reviewer, most of what I get offered to review now are tabletopia versions of games (which I turn down)

It would be nice if they could do both, but you're right about the increase in headcount for things other than panels. I know that there are problems even now trying to find reliable people to work cons.



 

RPGaDay2020 Prompt 24 - Humour


Reposted from https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-24-humour

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Prompt: Humour

I've never been the type to crack a joke or think of something witty at a moment's notice. I've always been more logical and reasoned. Even when I have a rare moment of insight into the mind of jokester, it has always been rooted in something of a more logical origin. I like a good comedian, and a good comedy- I've just never had the mindset of creating that comedic moment. I preface this particular entry with that disclaimer so that it can be more clearly understood when I say that I just don't like comedic games. I've tried them, and they've definitely been something that has taken me out of my comfort zone, and unlike some other pursuits that do the same, I've not come out of them with any clearer understanding of the purpose nor how to participate. Toon, Paranoia, and a host of others. When humor is naturally injected as a result of the narrative, that's a different thing. We had a situation in our last Pathfinder game where the druid had trailed the party because he had some other gathering to do, and decided to wild shape into a dinosaur- I forget the type, but it was akin to a velociraptor- and pursue the party. He happened to come up on the necromancer from behind, and she turned, ready to take possession of a soon to be undead dinosaur for her entourage. That whole situation and the glee that the player described in her eyes, and the abject fear in the eyes of the dino as they rolled for initiative- her glee turning to sadness when he got initiative and was able to shapechange back to the druid, was hilarious! But that wasn't planned, and wasn't the point of the whole thing. The closest I've come to enjoying something in this vein was Tales of the Floating Vagabond, but that wasn't purely an exercise in humor, even though it was very much absurd. I know that some get great enjoyment from it, and recount their Toon or Paranoia sessions with mirth, but it just runs cold to me.
#rpg #RPGaDay2020 #Tabletop rpg RPGaDay2020 Tabletop


 

RPGaDay2020 Prompt 23 - Edge


Reposted from https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-23-edge




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Prompt: Edge

Edgerunner- a person striving to survive and prosper in a 'punk type universe, derived from the fact that they're always on the edge between success and disaster. I was introduced to cyberpunk through William Gibson, as many were, and it immediately captured my imagination. Not too far into the future as to be unobtainable, but far enough to seem 'cool' and 'futuristic'. Though I played science fiction games, my first cyberpunk game was Cyberpunk in the black box with Friday Night Firefight as the combat system. I actually still have a shrinkwrapped copy, as I wanted to have a copy just in case something happened to my primary copy in the old beat up box. We moved from there to Cyberpunk 2020, and branched out into Shadowrun, Cyberspace, and GURPS Cyberpunk. Just on the other side of Cyberpunk lay Transhumanism, and delving into that in several books made me love the idea, but want it to be grittier than most transhumanist stories were- my sweet spot lay in the world Altered Carbon, Transmetropolitan, and Ray Winninger's Underground. I'm really not sure of the allure of the media- it's ugly, violent, and shows the worst, most cynical part of humanity. I suppose what I like about it is the fact that even in the darkest of places, if the hero is willing, he can be the brighter side. The Cases and Kovacs of the world. Sting put it best, I think, "At night, a candle is brighter than the sun." And though many of my heroes died in pursuit of that dream, they made for some damned good stories.
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RPGaDay2020 Prompt 22 - Rare


reposted from https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-22-rare

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Prompt: Rare

I collect games to be complete and because I want to read and play them. I know I have a few rare pieces in my collection, but they are valuable to me for the content rather than the monetary value. Below, I'll detail a few that I know are valuable monetarily, but of value to me more for the content.

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I love the Black Company by Glen Cook, so when this was released, I had to have it. What I love about the Black Company is that at its root it is a character based story, set in a terrible war where the main characters have little power, and just struggle to survive. It later migrates a bit from those roots, but you can always trace it back to those beginning stories. Others that I have or wish that they'd make that are in the same vein are The Powder Mage series (already available for Savage Worlds) and Malazan Book of the Fallen (not adapted)




I love the Authority by Warren Ellis, for the characters and the themes of Superheroes on a level that we rarely see them, facing foes that are unlike those that I'd seen in comics before this. For all of that, the story was more rooted in the character study of the various heroes and how they dealt with the threats and others perceptions of them. Others in this same vein that I'd love to see adapted include Stormwatch and Planetary.

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At times, I think I prefer Dune to Star Wars, though it is a close fight. Where Star Wars leans on the melodramatic, Dune veers towards a more esoteric version of the future, based on things in the past that flow through its DNA. Though many don't like the Brian Herbert prequels, I love them- they are less dry than the Silmarillion and other prequels for Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, and serve much the same purpose- to set the stage for the stories that we know and love. To be able to play in that world is quite intoxicating, even if I only use the book for reference rather than the rules.

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I started watching Supernatural when it was first released, but after the first few seasons laid it down, and didn't pick it back up until my daughter became interested in it. I love the mythology of the world, as messy as it is, and started to try to find the game after watching it with her, thinking that perhaps I could get her to try it. I found out that it was quite sought after, but found a reasonable copy on ebay at almost cover price. Before we could play it, our move came up, and I'm not sure where it is now. I hope it just got packed away somewhere, but I fear the worst. This one really hurt because of the interest sparked in her eyes when she saw the book.
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RPGaDay2020 Prompt 21 - Push


reposted from https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-21-push

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Prompt: Push

Every time that I've discovered a new group, it's been because I pushed myself to engage with someone outside of my comfort zone. I'm not a gregarious or outgoing person. Interactions tire me. I like gaming with others though, and miss it when I'm not. So after a group breaks up, in general, I've found myself going outside of my comfort zone to talk to others. I've me several of my lifelong friends in that way. When I moved, I fell in with some people at work, and we engaged with others to pull together a group. But they were all a lot younger than I, and going through life with children entering the picture in one way or another, and we gamed less and less, and as they left the company, it became really sporadic, until there were no more sessions. I found out a bit after that some them had gotten back together and were gaming. And I wasn't contacted. By that time, I'd really gotten back into online gaming- play by e-mail, roll20, play by document- and found solo gaming. I now find that I don't really crave that level of interaction in person, though I wonder if I'd see that need if I gamed in person again at a convention or some other function, and if I'm forgetting some aspect because I don't want to try again.
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RPGaDay2020 Prompt 20 - Investigate


Reposted from https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-20-investigate

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Prompt: Investigate

I've tried to run investigation games before- they've always turned out poorly. At first, I could blame the root cause on one thing- me as a GM. In preparing the adventure, I didn't follow the rule of 3s- have three sources of information, so that the players wouldn't get stuck by not seeing the clues or a faulty dice roll. But even after having that, in some cases, players just didn't see things in the same way that I did when making the adventure.

Then I found Gumshoe. For those who haven't heard of it, Gumshoe is a roleplaying system designed in 2007 by Robin Laws. It's designed to solve the flaws of players finding the clues by changing the focus of clues in a game to deciphering their meaning. It does this by having two different sorts of abilities - Investigative Abilities and General Abilities. Investigative Abilities center for the most part around professional skills, and as a professional, you are assumed to have more than a basic level of competency. Investigative abilities always work; there are no dice rolls involved. If a scene contains a core clue and a player character uses an investigative ability that relates to the clue, the character will find the clue.

A spend for an investigative ability costs points from the Investigative Ability pool, in exchange for additional clues. These clues are not necessary to solve the scenario, though they should give additional information or other benefits. Spent pool points from investigative abilities are refreshed between scenarios.

This method of telling a mystery keeps the onus of continuing the trail off of the players and off of me when writing the scenario, so that we can just narrate the story of what happens. It's one of my favorite systems now!

As a result of the DramaSystem Kickstarter, the SRD has been released, and can give a good overview of what the system is like before you dive in. The SRD can be found on The Pelgrane Press Site.
#rpg #RPGaDay2020 #Tabletop rpg RPGaDay2020 Tabletop
I'm increasingly of the opinion that investigation scenarios should contain an optional railroad. If they find and decipher the clues on their own, then great, but if they somehow don't, then there should still be an obvious continuation of the story that's eventually going to lead to solving the mystery.

Either that, or failure needs to be an acceptable result.

@Martijn Vos - I think that's the purpose of the investigation skills. You don't have to hope that they find the clues or worry about the rule of 3. It also allows the gm to pull their coat tails to do just as you say.



 

RPGaDay2020 Prompt 19 - Tower




Stone Spire by JaimeNieves on Deviant Art

Reposted from https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-19-tower

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Prompt: Tower

Towers are a staple in RPG- the high spires in the villain's castle. Or the towers where a final defense is mounted in a siege. Even in sci-fi, you have the skyscrapers and, to take it to an extreme, the orbital elevators that tie a planet to the stars. Usually, there is some reason that you have to fight your way to the top. Some incredible hard-fought (or over the top depending on genre) prelude to the final battle with the Big Bad high above the ground below, or to rescue someone important. Think Trinity and Neo in the Matrix, or Bruce Lee in Game of Death. It's a trope because it works- it's a way to communicate to players that this is climactic and should be treated as such, and this will get harder as you rise in levels- akin to levels in video games. How can we take this trope and turn it on its head?

1. The Big Bad is out for a meeting. Or something that takes him away from the location. Of course, you have to give the players something for the battle that they just waged to get there, but it doesn't have to be that final battle. This is especially true in more modern day scenarios where executives don't always stay put.
2. A fight from top to bottom. The only way to enter the sanctum is from the top- it is the least heavily guarded location in the big boss's domain.
3. Use of technology or magic to get around the trope. In our long-running Middle Earth campaign, after we goofed and Sauron got the ring, we were able to get a magic item that boosted the mage's power enough to teleport us directly into Sauron's tower. Of course, that didn't end well, but it was a different take.
4. The boss at the top isn't actually the boss, but a fall guy. This fall guy has some seemingly insignificant clue to the bad guy's location. (Make sure you have at least 3 ways to get this information in case your player characters aren't as fast on the uptake as you'd like)

What are some other ways that we can subvert the Tower trope?

(the image above "Stone Spire" is courtesy of JaimeNieves on Deviant Art)
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For example, maybe the manipulator just needs some chimera blood, and there just happens to be a chimera guarding the third floor latrine. The "big bad" at the top of the tower is just some random eccentric wizard whose research has nothing to do with whatever story the manipulator spun. By the time the party and the wizard figure what in the world just happened, the manipulator has gotten the chimera blood and is long gone.

@Isaac Kuo - I like that one! It can be used in a lot of situations- the party is just the diversion!



 

RPGaDay2020 Prompt 18 – Meet


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(just figured out I can just reshare from my blog)

RPGaDay2020 Prompt 18 - Meet
#rpg, #RPGaDay2020, #Tabletop

Prompt: Meet

It's funny that this topic should come up today- just yesterday, the Question of the Day on RPGGeek was related- what unlikely friendships have you formed because of gaming.

My Answer – Most of my friendships are from gaming, so I don't consider them unlikely. I'm not one to make friends in other manners- I'm a solitary person by nature. I've always gone to the movies alone, gone traveling alone, and just been alone. The only thing I don't necessarily like to do alone is game. I do game alone- I like solo role-playing as an activity. It helps me a lot with my writing. But this shared interest in gaming is what binds me together with others socially; in environments where gaming isn't a focus, I have a hard time with trivial things like 'small talk'. And of course, you can't conversate on heavier things, so I tend to fade into the background as a means of defense.
https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-18-meet
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RPGaDay2020 Prompt 17 – Comfort


Reposted from: https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-17-comfort

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Prompt: Comfort

My first thought at the prompt of 'Comfort' brought to mind the tendency of some in the hobby to find a system and stick with it, no matter the relative merits of the system. It might even be the first system tried- for some, there is that tendency not to stray from the system. I know that when I first started, I dabbled in several areas- from a start in AD&D 2nd Edition, I moved on to Marvel FASERIP and GURPS, adding Rolemaster once I went to college. I think that's one of the qualities I like about role-playing- the ability to get a different feel just by switching to a different system. Though I still buy and read a lot of systems, thinking about it I've seen a pattern. I'll have one primary system, and adapt everything to that system in order to run it more comfortably. I suppose that's no different than the gamers who stick with a particular system- my loyalties just switch from time to time as my sensibilities change. But, even for that, I still think that I'm more willing to try new things than most.
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RPGaDay2020 Prompt 16 - Dramatic


Reposted from: https://write.as/chuckdee/rpgaday2020-prompt-16-dramatic

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Prompt: Dramatic

Since I'm in the midst of creating this campaign world, Dramatic immediately leads me to one of the steps in my process that I've just started- creating Drama in the world. Drama- meaning to me, meaningful excitement. Not a plot. I've made that mistake before, plotting out too much, and wasting a lot of time on things that the players are not interested in. But dramatic hooks that I can play as the players decide that they want to follow them and find out what they entail with the players.

In my Drama document, I answered these questions in order to detail the dramatic hooks.

1. What are the major current affairs in the world (good and bad)
Detailing the city-state, I created a general outline of the relations with their neighbors- allies, frenemies, and outright hostilities. Also I gave a general overview of a couple of threads- an unexplored landmass that was recently discovered, a natural disaster that ravaged the southern farms, and forces stretched thin because the government is more concerned with the new area, rather than the plight of the outlying villages, as the food stores in the capital are not affected. Internally, a dissident group has been making waves, and rumors in the streets are that it is a group that was suppressed last year. The government denies this through the news sheets. There are developments of some new and exciting diversion for the rich, and there is supposed to be a large launch party with a celebrity chef serving up new culinary delights.
2. What are the threats the inhabitants of your world face
For threats, I went a bit more into the specifics of what a war means, and the general paranoia brought on by the cold war. There are natural threats everywhere other than the capital, and the safety of your home is based on what city you live in, and what sort of protections you can afford. But living in larger cities brings the threat of the government itself and its more draconian measures.
3. What are the everyday struggles of the people in your world
The struggles vary by where a person lives. In the Capital, the struggle is to survive against the draconian and sometimes mercurial rule of law. The lower castes have it worse, as they also struggle for sustenance and basic necessities. The larger hamlets have the same problem, but it varies depending on the ruler of the Satrapy. Villages don't have as much of a problem with the draconian law other than by the intermittent roving patrols that are supposed to protect them, but practically bleed them for the protection. That freedom is tempered by the constant dangers of the wildlife and the storms that wreak havoc to anyone unprotected out in them.

I'll have to go back and edit later, but I think that by focusing on the possibilities rather than the specifics of the plot, I can more ably react to what the players want to do once their characters are in the world.
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