Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Return to Action and Profiling

Welcome back. It’s been a while. With my life slightly less hectic now that my company’s office has moved—following a nearly 10-month acquisition and integration process—I’ve decided to revisit the Well and see if anyone’s still stopping by.

I’m hoping to get up a few things on some new topics in the next few days. In the meantime, assuming anyone is still stopping by, I’d like to do a little profiling to talk about what we’re playing and how our experiences are going.

Here are the questions:
  1. What’s your name?
  2. Where in the world are you?
  3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
  4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
  5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?
  6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
  7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.

And naturally, I’ll start.
1. What’s your name?
Thor Olavsrud

2. Where in the world are you?
New York City

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
This is gonna be a long one! In the interest of some brevity, I’m going to leave out Dreamation last month, though I’ll note that I played in Judd’s 1st Quest wolves game, Mike Miller’s Mutant Academy scenario for his excellent game, With Great Power, a playtest of Kevin Allen jr.’s work-in-progress, Sweet Agatha, and John Wick’s Wilderness of Mirrors.

So here we go:
The Monday group has continued its extremely fun Burning THAC0 game, a Burning Wheel game that consciously seeks to embrace all the wonderful tropes of the original Dungeons & Dragons game. For nostalgia’s sake, the game is set in Mystara, in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Our characters have just returned from an expedition to the Isle of Dread, and I have managed to make the grandmaster of villainy, Bargle the Infamous, my wizard’s nemesis. All I can say is, “Die Bargle, Die!”

This group’s core consists of Anthony (the GM), Rich, Pete and myself. Luke has recently become a regular member, and Jared now makes cameos when he’s in town. We play in a conference room of our local Public Television affiliate, Thirteen, which Pete works for.

The Thursday group has been experimenting with Weapons of the Gods, which we’ve been quite excited about. We may get back to it in the near future, but we have some other games on the agenda first. We played a wonderful session of Dogs in the Vineyard last Thursday. It’s been more than a year since half of us played Vincent’s little gem, but it still produces consistently wonderful experiences. My Dog is perched on the precipice between being a force for good and becoming a cult leader and sorcerer himself.

This group’s core consists of John, Drozdal, Mayuran, Alexander and myself. Jon has made a cameo in the past and is more than welcome to return at anytime. Alexander has been out the past month or so dealing with visa issues, but that’s resolved now and he should be back soon. We play in the conference room of Nettwerk Music Group, which John works for.

The Sunday group has taken a break from its usual Earthsea-inspired Burning Wheel game (which Mayuran GMs) while Alexander has been out, so instead we’ve done a short Burning Wolves campaign, using the Great Wolves lifepaths from Burning Wheel’s Monster Burner. Our pack of Spirit Hunter wolves had to deal with the encroachment of the mad forest god as he sought to conquer the god of the mountain. We had numerous tussles with fox god, bear god, moose god, night god and fire god, as well as confrontations with other Great Wolf packs and ravens. Let me tell you, entering a Duel of Wits with a mountain is a scary proposition! This game came to a conclusion on Sunday, with four of the six player characters killed in the godswar. We all found ourselves interested in pursuing another game in the world.

This group’s core consists of Mayuran, Drozdal, Alexander, Luke and myself. With Alexander out, the roster for the Wolves game was actually Mayuran, Drozdal, Luke (as the GM), Danny, Chris, Rich and myself. We play at Game Headquarters, in Luke’s room.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
It’s my poll, so I’ll cheat a little bit and list two.

First up is the entirety of the Burning THAC0 experience, rather than a specific thing. Burning THAC0 gaming has a lower intensity than most of my other gaming. It is intended to be a fun, casual romp, with lots of nostalgic references to old D&D experiences. We unabashedly game situations, make off-topic pop culture jokes, and kill things and take their stuff. Our teamwork is fun. There’s a lot to be said for the beer-and-pretzels experience.

Second up is the setting we created for the Burning Wolves game. When we sat down to burn our characters, Luke grabbed an Ilocano-English dictionary to use. We named our characters from it. We also named our relationships and our territories from it. When new NPCs (usually gods) were brought in with Circles, we named them with it. Luke drew a little map of our territories with all the names on it. Horut the Mountain towered over our territory, Daga. Balat the Forest sent his trees and grasses to war against Daga. Karayan the River brought us water to quench our thirst, and was in turn the child of Horut and Yelo the Ice. Aguma the Maker, with his lantern and axe, was allied with Balat, or was he? Agradam the Night made us shiver with terror, while Soro the Fox tricked us over and over and Manaketa the Bear gave us no end of trouble. Bukig the Moose bade us hide from our troubles. Our pups, Uken, Bato and Tiniteg gave us hope. Fellow great wolves Immalsa, Nasaglat, Cayanga, Abaken, Bison, etc., were our rivals and mates.

As these names grew around the things we created, the world really took shape in our imaginations. These places and characters grew organically over the course of the six sessions of the game and really gave the place a unique flavor and character.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?
Interestingly enough, the Burning Wolves game is also my answer for this one and I’ve been struggling to answer why for several weeks. I think it comes down to this: I really cared about the subject of the game. I’m fascinated by wolves: their biology and physiology, their behavior, their pack structure and hierarchy, their hunting strategies, their ability to communicate with each other, etc.

I think it all stems from an account in Barry Lopez’s book, Of Wolves and Men, in which he relates how the pack he followed fed an elderly female that was no longer capable of hunting. Lopez noted the possibility that she had some sort of knowledge that was useful to the pack, and which justified their efforts to feed her. That always resonated with me.

I really wanted to see that stuff take shape in a game, and I pushed for this game. But gaming is a cooperative endeavor, and it’s not realistic to assume that everyone in your group is going to care about the things that you care about to the same degree. I wanted a game that really focused on stuff like pack mentality, pack community, and the communal effort to survive and raise pups. I noted that I wasn’t interested in seeing the game turn into “Man vs. Nature,” with “good” wolves trying to defend pristine Nature against “evil” men. I wasn’t interested in anthropomorphizing these creatures; I wanted them to feel like real wolves.

But there were six other people at the table with me, and they all had their own ideas. That’s fine. In fact, that’s how it should be. But because I really cared about that stuff, I was unwilling to give very much ground in those areas during play, even when it became clear that the rest of the players didn’t really care.

Gaming will never be satisfying if you’re not willing to give ground and allow other people to change your vision. In the end, the problem with the game and the reason it was unsatisfying was me. I was too attached to the subject matter.

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
I’m looking forward to a number of games. Starting Wednesday, our friend Bob comes to town for a week from Boston. Between Wednesday and Sunday, we are going to burn a world and characters in Burning Empires and play through an entire phase. We’ll World Burn and Character Burn on Wednesday, play sessions Thursday night and Friday night, and marathon sessions on Saturday and Sunday. I expect it will be grueling! But also fun!

On Friday, the Gotham Gaming Guild returns, and we’ll set the stage for a 6-session run of a Burning Wheel game about Ronin from Hell. I hope to play a Yamabushi spirit-binder aiming to send the demons back where they came from. It should be a blast.

After I return from a trip to Alaska next week, the Thursday group is going to take Ralph Mazza’s work-in-progress, Robots & Rapiers, out for a spin!

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.
It’s all about naming. See my answer to question 4, as well as Technique: The Magic of Yevaud’s Name.

Ok. That’s me. What about you?

22 comments:

Iskander said...

1. What’s your name?
Alexander.

2. Where in the world are you?
Manhattan for work, Astoria for home.

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
InSpectres last weekend at Game Headquarters, with Luke (GM), Carly, Peter, Sean and Stefano. Lots of crazy fun.

Then Peter, Sean and Stefano left, and we played Mechaton with me, Carly, Rick and Luke... and I reigned supreme: Sweet Christmas, LukeCagebot brought the hurt.

Burning Wheel last week - the Hands of Isis game - at Google (where I work) with Anthony, Phredd and Tim (GM).

I ran The Mountain Witch about six weeks ago, also at Google, but with (mostly) Googlers.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
It was really satisfying bringing the indie word to the good Google people, but InSpectres probably beats that experience out for sheer fun: I loved the freewheeling access to my twistedness the game gave me. Funny stuff.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?
Hands of Isis isn't doing a lot for me these days. I'm not sure why (and don't have a lot of time to reply, either). Sucks, but that's the way it is.

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
Ya-gahn, the Thursday gang, and running InSpectres for Googlers.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.
Actively discusses play behaviour.

Judd said...

1. What’s your name?

Judd.

2. Where in the world are you?

Ithaca, N.Y.

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?

I played Spirit of the Century last night at my friend's house with my girlfriend, my buddy, Pete and his wife, Lilly.

It was kinda lukewarm, more because I'm a bit burned out on the game all around right now.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?

I was running a game with two players from the Sunday group where they were both elves, Storn - a sword-singer and the Jeff- his second and heir to the elven throne. It was really splendid. We've all played BW before but this time we are really taking our time to get to know the bits of the system that we've missed thus far and it has been great.


5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?

We played Exalted with the Friday night group and the game itself was pretty damned unsatisfying and when we tried to talk about it after the game the discussion didn't really go anywhere.

The system really got right in our way during play in a way that I haven't seen in a good long time.


6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?

I'm running Dogs for the Friday group and Storn's running Weapons of the Gods for the Sunday group, which is really exciting.

I'm also excited to give some 1st Quest settings a go.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.

We talk about what we are going to play a whole lot and make sure everyone is on board and excited about the concept before moving forward. We've had games where almost everyone was excited and not gone through with it, waiting for a game that we were all on board for.

Michael S. Miller said...

What’s your name?
Michael S. Miller

Where in the world are you?
Eastern Pennsylvania, just outside Allentown

What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
Kat, Michele and I playtested Kat's new game SERIAL last week. It's about those hunt down serial killers and the killer's potential victims. More details on Kat's LJ.

I played 7 games at Dreamation! Two WGP sessions, a By The Stars powered by WGP, Unistat, Shooting the Moon, Wilderness of Mirrors, and Mechaton. Full details on players, etc. available at my LJ


What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
Tough call. All the Dreamation gaming was really high quality. Shooting the Moon was a great session, because we all were on the same page with what type of story we were building. How often do you RP a Shakespearean comedy?

SERIAL was also really great, because it came together so well, and really drew us in to care about these almost doomed victims.

What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?
Not having an active group. It dulls the creative faculty and corrodes the confidence.

What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
Is "any" legit? Actually, we're looking forward to heading to Brennan's this weekend. Plus, Rob Bowell is making progress on the Jersey Area Gamers. And SERIAL is so simple and straightforward, I might be able to take it our card & board game group.

Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.
I try to encourage an openness to the suggestions of others. Just because it's your character shouldn't mean that you're the only one that wants him to look cool.

BTW, good to have you back, Thor!

Steven Jarvis said...

1. What’s your name?
Steven Jarvis.

2. Where in the world are you?
Fayetteville, Arkansas.


What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
I have only played Burning Wheel for, well, a while now.

We just started a new group (the Bi-Weekly Thursday group) and a group just fell apart (the weekly, then Bi-Weekly Friday group). Both included me and Tim Patterson (TimP from the BW boards).

The new group is made up of me, Tim, two relative BW newbies (Jeremiah and Frank), and one complete BW newb (Pat). It's a good group.

What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?

The last two sessions of the Thursday group. They've been good primarily for one reason: everybody at the table is engaged, interested, and really interested in EVERYBODY having a good time: helping the new guy learn to script in Fight! and DoW, and watching the the light bulb go off over another player's head when he scripted something kinda weird and saw it work brilliantly.

More importantly, how we rooted and cheered for each other during those sessions.


What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?

The pitiful slow death of the Friday group. Of the five of us, one joked almost non-stop and two others would just never get into the conflict. Instead of getting both hands elbow-deep in the good stuff, they'd do everything they could to avoid conflict in-game. Ironically, it created a lot of out-of-game conflict because they also wouldn't talk about it much (or they'd say "No, really. I'm having fun" when it was readily apparent that they weren't (nor was anyone else).


What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?

The next session of the Thursday BW group! I can't wait! We're probably going to wrap up this first game in two or three more sessions (it's gone five so far, I think), and I REALLY hope this group wants to stay together. I also really hope that they'll want to do some Burning THAC0 style old school Burning Wheel.

Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.

It's hard to pin down what we do right. I think one thing that's helping this group is that they're all interested in learning the BW rules and learning them WELL. The previous group was very resistant to learning the rules, even to the point of not buying the books (and they're CHEAP, too!). The new group is actively learning the rules and wanting to experiment and try out new things in the rules. They're ENGAGED in the game.

EvilKnight said...

1. What's Your name?
Keith (EvilKnight).

2. Where in the world are you?
Indianapolis, IN.

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
(GM) DND/Forgotten Realms at the local library a couple of weeks ago for a large group of teens. I volunteer to host a monthly game session for teens. It has gotten too big to run and keep them all engaged though.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
With same group several months ago. Had a new boy play an NPC boy of the same age who had decided to run away from his evil father (cleric of Bane). Pulled teeth for him to think out how he would feel betraying his father. Been trying to run with some of the broad concepts I am learning from reading the Burning Wheel books.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?

Last group where I played a PC. Made a rogue that was all about disguises, stealth and fast talking. Set up to go out and sell some loot in the city and got totally marginalized in the whole situation (hell the brain dead tank of a warforged showed me up for wheeling and dealing). Wasn't fun for me and sealed my decision to take a break from the group and deal with some real life commitments instead.

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
Actually I'm looking forward to bringing the library campaign to a close and setting up the teens to run their own smaller groups. Use our monthly sessions to review their games and do mini workshops - plan on using excerpts from some of the excellent podcasts to spark discussions.

I would like to give BW a spin. I've been trying to figure out how to tweek the magic system to use in an a high fantasy setting like the Forgotten Realms.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.
I need to do many things better. BW has opened my eyes.

Thor Olavsrud said...

Thanks to everyone that's posted so far! Keep it coming folks.

Brennan Taylor said...

1. What’s your name?
Brennan Taylor

2. Where in the world are you?
Western NJ, near the Pennsylvania border.

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
I ran several games at Dreamation: Mortal Coil, Contenders, and a playtest of my new game How We Came to Live Here. I also got to play Breaking the Ice.

I also run games intermittantly on Friday nights, a variety of indie games. Recently I played Drowning and Falling, Waiting for the Queen/Tea at Midnight, and Contenders. I also have a Saturday group that meets about once a month, and we most recently played Mortal Coil in the Harry Potter universe, and we're getting ready to start up a Victorian-era Spirit of the Century game with a monster-hunting theme.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
Definitely the playtest of How We Came to Live Here. I had an idea in my head about how the game would play, and that's pretty much how it came out at the table. It was pretty amazing.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?
Burning Wheel with the Saturday group, actually. The rules were a bit complex for some of the players, and just when everyone was getting familiar with them, we decided the game really wasn't working. A key player's character had become an NPC, and the game just didn't work without a player behind that character. The whole thing just started to fall flat.

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
I'm excited about getting to try Spirit of the Century, and I am eager to continue playtesting How We Came to Live Here.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.
We definitely talk about our gaming a lot. This is immensely helpful, even though a lot of times we still have dud games, we're willing to discuss it.

Jon said...

1. What’s your name?

Jonathan Slack

2. Where in the world are you?

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

3. What have you played recently?

I played Burning Wheel "The Frozen Vise" on Tuesday, and Dogs in the Vineyard "Orchard Plains" on Sunday.

4. With whom did you play and where?

The Burning Wheel game was played with Wes, Kyle and Dave. We play at Dave's apartment, he's got a nice table and a minimum of distractions.

The Dogs in the Vineyard game was played with Erica and Aaron. I played at their house, which was a little problematic, as their dogs love to steal dice from the table!

5. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?

It'd have to be the Sunday Dogs in the Vineyard game. Seeing Erica step on up with Lilith was really satisfying, and there were some powerful moments when she pronounced her judgment. Plus, I really enjoy the mechanics in Dogs, and it was a joy to play out the three conflicts that occurred in the game.

6. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?

I had two problematic games that I recently left and ended. My Shadowrun game came to a nice satisfying end. I had been struggling and eventually ignoring the system, and really disliked the amount of work that went into designing sessions. I did want to end it well, as each player loved their character and I wanted to give them a nice conclusion. The conclusion was a lot of hand waving at the rule system and a happy ending for all.

I left a Werewolf:The Apocalypse LARP that I've been involved in for about 7 years.

The game system really annoyed me, the setting was getting really stale, and I was starting to attend because I didn't want to upset the other players by leaving. I came to an epiphany recently that going because of social obligation was really stupid, and recently left.

7. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?

I'm really looking forward to Burning Empires this Sunday. We're doing World Burning and Character generation. This is the same group I ran a Fires over Omac session with.

8. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.

My Tuesday group (Kyle, Wes, Dave) talk about what we want in the game, at the beginning and end of every session. This is detailed, and includes what we want to see happen right in the game session, as well as a post game chat on what went right and what went not so right. Communication is huge, and makes for a good time had by all.

Keith said...

Name
Keith Senkowski

Location:
I live in Wauconda, work in Northbrook, and game in Chicago... The plan is to move them all to fucking Chicago cause the drive is killing me...

Recently Played:
Burning Wheel Sanctuary type game (rotating GM's over short run games with everyone playing only characters introduced in the previous game). That and Jungle Speed at Dreamation. I've found I have little interest in playing con games or games with strangers these days.

Best Game Recently:
The one session we played so far of the Sanctuary inspired game. It was hot. I found my voice for my character (total mafioso young turk type). It was great. Phil even told me I missed my calling (as in I should have been a mobster), which is a high compliment in my book.

Problematic Game Recently
Our Burning Empires attempt a little while ago. It just didn't work for us as a group. I think it was the adversarial nature of the beast. We get that fix when we board game it up and came to the realization that as a group we are not interested in that stuff except in a single session.

The Future
Looking forward to kicking the Sanctuary game in gear. Schedules have been a mess lately so we haven't had a chance to really sink into it. We usually hit our stride in spring/summer.

I also want to kick off a Conspiracy of Shadows game, and would look for a second group, but don't have it in me right now to go through the resume process. Finding a solid game group is like dating, and I don't want to date...

The One Thing
We know how to push the buttons of the other players in the group. We don't push character buttons, but player buttons to get shit going and keep it going. We have this firm understanding of what drives good game play and know how to use it to our advantage.

Anders Sveen said...

1. What’s your name?
Anders Sveen

2. Where in the world are you?
Stockholm, Sweden

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
I've played The Mountain Witch with Jonas, Kory and Thekla. Jonas and I play together with various people. Thekla's from Germany and Kory's American so we play in English. This game lasted three sessions and they all took place att Korys dorm room (he's an exchange student).

Jonas and I also played Shock: with Magnus. We played in my apartment. This was before christmas though and the game has sadly not been finished yet.

Instead we have been playing some In a Wicked Age, and then last week Dogs in the Vineyard. It's Jonas, Hans and me and we've been playing here at my home as well.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?

Right now I'm all: "Dogs!" It's my first time as a player and it's just so good. The feeling of getting a good grasp of what's going on in the town and at the same time feeling the situation just slide through my fingers.

But I really love In a Wicked Age too. I just gel with the game and the way it works. It's very colourful, fast paced and with at true thematic punch.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?

Perhaps the feeling that not everyone were interested in the same thing when we'd finished our Mountain Witch game. In many ways I experienced the best sessions I've had with the game yet but realizing that it could have been even better if all three players had used their dark fates more remains. As it were only one of them (Jonas) really took it by the reins and added to the game, with some memorable stuff as a result. The other two seemed more into pure genre gaming and PC characterization respectively.

I sort of blame myself for letting things slide a bit.

So in the end a rather successful game still rang a little hollow.

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?

I want to play more Polaris, a whole story arc in fact.

Try TSOY with a Tribe 8 inspired setting. Jonas as the Story Guide.

And more Dogs of course (should have played tonight but the flu's going around).

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.

Alexander said it well: Actively discusses play behaviour.

Also, trying to nail down what we're really after when we get an idea. At least this is true for myself but I really think we should do it more.

Jmstar said...

Good to see you back, Thor!

1. What’s your name?
Jason Morningstar

2. Where in the world are you?
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
Heroquest, with the Durham Three, and Pulp TSoY with my other weekly group.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
As a designer, my Dreamation playtests of Grey Ranks, which went well and were really inspirational. I saw the game do what I want it to do for the first time. As a player, seeing a looming difficult decision for my HQ character, who has a pair of families he loves on different sides of the Sartar rebellion. He gets to pick one next week.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?
Heroquest, as a system, really doesn't rock my world.

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
I'm running Contenders for Clinton and Remi soon, and I'm setting it in 1913 New York! It's going to be great.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.
One thing we've experimented with that I intend to do more of is physical warmups, pulled from improv training. It feels a little ridiculous, but when we've applied ourselves it has helped focus us and build enthusiasm.

John Harper said...

1. What’s your name?
John Harper.

2. Where in the world are you?
Seattle, WA, USA.

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
I play in a weekly group with Phil LaRose, Tony Dowler, and Brandon Amancio. Right now, we're playing Sorcerer (Dictionary of Mu). It's rocking. Before that, we played a long TSOY space-pulp series which we will likely revisit in the future using Spirit of the Century.

I'm also playtesting Galactic over Skype with Matt Wilson, Matt Snyder, and Chris Chinn.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
Hmmm. That's a tough one. Both playtests of Tony's new game Mathematica have been amazing. The way the "war of ideas" interacts with PC choices is super fun. I'm excited to see that game reach maturity.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?
Well, I kind of hate to say it here, but it was Burning Empires. It just wasn't a good fit for the group. I think it's an amazing game, but one of the players really wasn't into Firefight or the Infection, which made things difficult at best. Also, we only had a 5-session slot for it, which I feel is too short for the BE experience. In a different group, with a much longer run, things would have been different.

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
More Mathematica playtesting. More Space Pulp action with SotC. Then I think the group is going to focus more on playtesting new designs from around the indie community, and possibly recording post-game feedback, Durham 3 style.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.
We bring the encouragement. We're always "giving Fan Mail" to each other even if the game system doesn't have it. We're always striving to validate and support the contributions of the people around the table.

Jake Richmond said...

1. What’s your name?
Jake Richmond

2. Where in the world are you?
Portland, OR. It's a good place to be.

3. What have you played recently?
With whom did you play and where?
Project C.H.A.I.R., Gun Mage, All barrels Must Die and Classroom Deathmatch with my regular group. Panty Explosion with the Portland Indie game group.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why? Project CHAIR was amazing. The game encourages an incredible amount of creativity and energy.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why? Frustration with my regular group believing that because the first GMless game we played failed that any GMless game is doomed to failure. This is doubly frustrating becaus ethe game only failed when one player tried to assert himself as GM.

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
Beast Hunters. I missed getting to play it when Christian was over for game night last month. I'm looking forward to it.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.

Crazy inventiveness. While my group is really conservative in some ways we really enjoy taking our games in unexpected directions. Of course a lot of that comes from playing with people you are familair with and trust. It's easier to throw strange and unconventional ideas out there with a group of players your comfortable with. But I'm often suprised when I sit down with new players and discover how bland and static they are. Luckily Portland has a really great community of interesting players.

Guy said...

Good to see you're back Thor, I kept checking :)

Guy Shalev.
Alphei Menashe, Israel.

Didn't get to play anything in recent months. Being a full time army-medic takes a lot out of my time, and most of my energy.

Hoping to get a Weapons of the Gods game going in a month or two, and running an Indie one-shot once a month. But I'm going to try to get out of the army first.

buzz said...

1. What’s your name?
Mark Delsing, though people do actually call me "Buzz" IRL.

2. Where in the world are you?
Aurora, IL

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
HERO, with my regular HERO group, at my house. Then, D&D, with my Saturday D&D group, at a friend's place. All of my regular groups (three) play at various members' homes.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
The second session of my Star HERO campaign. I was much more comfortable with the system than my first session, and felt better prepared. Also, I was making better use of some RMap techniques to add some indie flavor, as well as some great situation advice from John Kim via StoryGames. Basically, everything clicked, and the players were happy and throwing ideas all over the place.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?
The first session of my Star HERO campaign. :) I was going in with the wrongheaded idea that one could sneak up on mode, and it just bombed. I was also not as conversant with the system as I generally like to be when GM'ing. The biggest issue was simply that I went a little too crazy with RMap techniques, and threw far too much, too soon at the players. I was expecting this magical epiphany, but mostly what I got was a harried game with confused players.

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
I'm running a 1st-edition Gamma World game for ENWorld Chicago Gameday XVI. The system is really terrible, even given its age, as is the adventure I'm using, GW1: The Legion of Gold. But, I'm porting over the main characters from The Wizard of Oz as PCs, so it looks like it'll be some freewheeling, old-school fun.

At the same event, a friend of mine is running a D&D 3.5 game based on the old '80s D&D cartoon, and it looks like it'll be a lot of fun.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.
Serve as an example of what others should not do? :) Seriously.

Devin said...

1. What’s your name?
Devin (Zabieru on the BW boards)

2. Where in the world are you?
Olympia for a few more months, then back to Seattle

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
Mostly at the campus gaming club I run, with my courseload and the spotty attendance I was getting I couldn't justify taking all that time out of my schedule to run a game only to cancel every other week after waiting two hours for people to show up. Lately, a lot of board games, some Inspectres, BW, Spirit of the Century, some other stuff.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
Mm. Ran 'The Gift' at gaming guild, that was mostly okay. Inspectres is always a blast, but doesn't entirely scratch my itch.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?
Oh, let me count the ways. My BE game disintigrating in the face of the above scheduling problems. Either that or trying to join a d20 group, only to find that the game was so tightly integrated into that social circle (which I'm friends with, but not exactly part of) that the only way to keep on top of when game was to be held was to join the herd all week long.

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
Graduating and moving back to Seattle, where I have steady gamer friends. I know there's some old-school Vampire Dark Ages waiting for me, Weapons of the Gods and Unhallowed Metropolis playtests, some good stuff.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.
"My group" at this point is me, alone and pouring my bitterness on the internets. The d20 group I talked about above really did have some good action going in terms of integrating the game with their life. Worked against me, but I think it was good for the core group there. I don't think I advocate adopting that model, but some drift in that direction could help certain groups I've seen.

PS Good to see you back.

Matt Wilson said...

1. What’s your name?
Matt Wilson

2. Where in the world are you?
Living in Milwaukee, dreaming of someplace else

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
Last time I played a game was the big Savage Worlds WWII game just before Xmas when I was back in Seattle.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
Since that has been my only face-to-face gaming since GenCon, it sorta wins by default.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?
I think in general it's the feeling of despair that spring and the move may never come.

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
Dude, all the gaming of NYC. I'm going to be like a college freshman with a keg when I arrive.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.
I don't know what other groups do. I know that I like how the skype group was so ready to revise and retcon and redo, or just stop for a sec when things weren't working.

Drozdal said...

1. What’s your name?

Radek Drozdalski

2. Where in the world are you?

Queens, NY

3. What have you played [/recently? With whom did you play and where?

I played Inspecters last thursday with Mayuran, Isk and Jenskot.

Then we played Burning Empires with Thor, Luke, Mayuran and BOB

Also like two weeks ago I had a blast playing DItV with Mayuran, Thor and Jenskot.

And...we just finished BW mini-campagin playing wolfs. With Chris, Rich, Luke, Mayuran, Thor and Danny.

Good Times all around.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?

I tihnk our DItV game two weeks ago. At first it seemed like it's gonna turn out to be our "regular game" (which is fun, but not crazy fun), but them we really kicked it into high gear and the whole session totally rocked. We all look forward to play those characters again!

BE marathon game was OK, I guess it wasn't too mind blowing becasue it like a year em Thor and Mayuran played BE, but we managed to have a lot of fun at the edn (despite losing the phase to Luke ;)).

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?

Thor wrote about it somewhere around here. Two instancies - one in our Ya-ghan game and the other in the wolf's campaign. Both situations involved me and Thor and the conflict that i started and thor would not finish ;) I guess i know how to push thor's buttnon's in game, but he wasn't really interested in compromising any of his character concepts to close those conflicts. Anyway everything ended fine (so far so good), and i'm looking forwards to playing with T again. Sorry mate it just happened this way :)

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?

Playtesting Robots and Rapiers for Ralph Mazza, continuation of that kick ass DitV game and later BW campaign that we talked about since like forever (conan red Nails style, or prure Lankhmar city campaign With Thor, Mayuran, Alexander and Jenskot).

Also i'm looking forwards to picking uo out Ya-Ghan game that was in hiarus since early december.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.

Whenever I'm in doubt or thinking what to do - taking up for consideration all of the options I have Thor (or someone else) steps in and asks me this question "what do you think would be most interesting thing for you as a player". That solved a lot of my problems at the table and is really helpfull (at least for me).

Rich said...

1. What’s your name?
Rich DiTullio, Verrain on various boards

2. Where in the world are you?

Nashville, TN

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?

Well I've got a local group just up the road with Joe, Shelby, Sam, Leonard and my wife Amber. We tried a Silver Age Sentinels game and an Amber game but both fell apart due to real life interfering. We just reconvened with a World of Darkness game that seems to be a Ghostbusters meets Lovecraft kind of thing.

Everything other week in Clarksville, I meet up with Jake Norwood, his wife Earta, Sanchez and Trista for some Burning Wheel! We just elected a new Pope and are readying for the Crusades, roughly speaking. :)

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?

Definitely the Burning Wheel game. Duel of Wits rocks my world. It was the first time that I was able to play a wheeler dealer kind of character and still get the dice rolling high that comes with combat and not just a single die roll. Besides, we elected a Pope! How cool is that?

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?

Amber around a tabletop for a campaign is a lot trickier that it looks. There was too much dead time and not enough time for good prep before hand. I am good at keeping a con slot going but my campaign-fu is weak.

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?

Both my current games catch my interest but I so want to try DitV. need to find a try to convince the crew to give it a shot.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.

Nothing off the top of my head except that both groups are extremely kid friendly such that having one or two year old toddlers at gaming barely affects the flow. A little patience goes a long way.

Simon said...

1. What’s your name?
Simon.

2. Where in the world are you?
Carlton North, Victoria, Australia.

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
I played RQIV last night at Pete's in Brunswick - not bad for the Monday night crowd (Harry, Jeff and Aaron). Before that, I ran RQIV the weekend before as a playtest, which the Sunday group loved (MattiR, JayBs and Stephen).

Going back some ways, Burning Mirkwood with Aaron, Matt and Stephen at Ace's place in woopwoop, which I loved as it was my first play of BW.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
I think the RQIV I ran a few weekends ago, as I made it clear what we wanted from the session and that it was a one-off. This is good because I am terrible at staying focussed on a game, and have disappointed players before with switching, so having a set-up that makes clear what is going on is a good thing for me.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?
The BW game I ran before Christmas. I had too many players (6) and I didn't have clear idea of the set up for the game. I realised from this that the set-up for BW is all important. That and no more than 4 players (for me, at least).

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
I can't wait to give Mountain Witch a go. I am excited by the trust mechanics and thinking of the group I'll offer this one to. Also, Conspiracy of Shadows and Cold City are high on my list.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.
For Aaron and Matt and I, we know what buttons to push to get the play going on. Aaron loves a contest, Matt loves a good bit of intrigue and I love down and dirty fight. Know your players, talk about what they like, and give it to them.

Anonymous said...

1. What’s your name?
John(jenskot)

2. Where in the world are you?
Work: Manhattan.
Live: Forest Hills in Queens, NYC

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
What: Dictionary of Mu
Where: Dreamation, NJ
Who: Judd (gm), Matthew, Shane, Terry, Myself

What: Dogs in the Vineyard
Where: Dreamation, NJ
Who: Vincent (gm), Matthew, Shane, Mayuran

What: Wrestling Game (working title, game I am developing)
Where: Manhattan, 440 Studios
Who: Myself (gm), Eppy, Jason, Jim, Maria, Myself

What: Dogs in the Vineyard
Where: Manhattan, Nettwerk Music Group
Who: Myself (gm), Thor, Mayuran, Drozdal

What: Call of Cthulhu
Where: Bayside in Queens, NYC
Who: Osk (gm), Terry, Ryan, Walter, Myself

What: Planescapes using Mutants & Masterminds
Where: Whitestone in Queens, NYC
Who: George (gm), John C, Jon V, Mike, Jay, Jerry, Nick, Myself

What: Sorcerer
Where: Forest Hills in Queens, NYC
Who: Terry (gm), Lou, Neal, JE (sometimes Martha, Carlos)

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
Running Dogs in the Vineyard for Thor, Mayuran, and Drozdal. It just clicked for me. The pacing was great. Everyone was listening to each other and incorporating each others wants into our shared fiction. The town felt alive. Things felt like they mattered. Conflicts felt like conflicts not "time to engage the dice mechanic because it's that time again". It's hard to incorporate character's relationships into a 1-shot but I changed a lot on the fly but it didn't fall a part as I feared it would. I felt I didn't incorporate Drozdal as much as I could have in the middle but he really stood out towards the end in spectacular fashion. When we were free form role playing, it almost felt like we were using the dice mechanic to pace ourselves and respect each others contributions (the way the dice mechanic forces you to). I tried my best not to block in an improv sense. Which means I can't say no out of character (in character saying no rocks). It meant you can't pretend someone's contributions don't exist. It went well. And the players didn't play stereotypical power tripping police as I've seen in a few other games. The characters actually has a sense of innocence to them.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?
I was playing a game where I felt the GM blocked me. My efforts to uncover the villain were ignored and it was later explained that it was better that way for pacing. In another game, I failed an attempt to mind control a character so the GM gave that character a bonus to future attempts which wasn't part of the rules. Both cases made me angry and I argued briefly and portrayed myself as what people typically call a rules lawyer (although I waited till after the game to argue as to not ruin other people's fun). I find that is exactly what I become when I feel like I am being railroaded somehow. I hate that feeling. It makes me feel dirty and I forget that I am playing to have fun.

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
I'm not sure. It feels like I'm going from playing 4-5 games a week to 1-3 a week. Boohooo me! hahahahaha. I usually end up working crazy hours (60-80 a week) and I really rely on gaming to de-stress. The biggest problem is there isn't any consistency at the moment. My Cthulhu game is on hold as everyone is too busy. Fridays I can't do the Gotham Gaming Guild full time as I will be traveling a lot. So I will be running 1-shots for different people. Saturdays is turning into more of a monthly game as my friends are feeling the time constraints of adulthood in various forms. Sundays has become questionable as Neal moved to Buffalo for a few weeks to do a play, JE's job has him on call 24/7, Lou is traveling, and Terry has a cookbook deadline to hit in the next 2 months. Thursdays is pretty much my only consistent gaming but has rotating games. My wrestling game is going well. I have 6 new pages of notes that need to be tested but I haven't had the time to type everything up and create new play aids (just came back from a few business trips to Utah, then LA and I may be going to Vancouver and London soon).

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.
I'm cheating here but...
- Shut the hell up and listen to the other players!
- Have a goal in mind before you frame a scene. Everything that happens should have a reason. Know what you want. And take action to get it.
- Make your intension clear so the other players can root for you. Make sure your intensions push the story forward.
- Say less. Talk 1/5th as much as you think you need to.
- Plan less, being caught off guard rocks, roll with it.
- Don't know what to do next? Slow down.
- Ask yourself how you can create opportunities for your fellow players to do cool stuff. Do it.
- Make everyone else look good. You make others look good by giving them strong responses.
- If 5 people are trying to make 1 person look good, it can be more effective than just 1 person trying to look good by themselves.
- Think of the safe way to do something and throw it out.
- When you ask a question, wait for an answer. Make the stakes higher.
- Do instead of talk.
- Make strong choices. Don't hold back.
- Speak the truth in simple, direct language.
- Speaking the truth means listening first (to others and yourself) and then responding.
- Warm up before you roleplay. Talk in character. Review what happened last game. Play Death Stakes.
- We're not roleplaying to see life as it is, we are roleplaying to see life as we wish it could be.
- What you don't say can be as cool as what you do say, as long as the message is understood.
- If someone is stuck, help them out, make suggestions.
- If someone does something in game and they seem really happy with it, don't offer them a suggestion that is way cooler than what they wanted to do. Save it for when they are stuck or not happy with their choices. Move on.
- Don't hog the stage. Make sure everyone is contributing as much as you are.
- Act on a stimuli the second it hits you. Don't delay or you may loose the moment.
- Make sure everyone is listening before you speak. Get their attention first. Look them in the eye. Then talk.
- It's not acting. It's re-acting.

Yoki said...

1. What’s your name?
Yoki Erdtman.

2. Where in the world are you?
Sodertalje, Sweden.

3. What have you played recently? With whom did you play and where?
The Governor's Daughter, our Burning Wheel campaign, at my house in Sodertalje.

Before then it was InSpectres, which is now our go-to game when we have some time to kill.

I play every thursday night (when my chronic headaches allow) with three of my best friends, Dahlman, Lars and Daniel. I always GM, which is something I'd really like to change, and I'm trying to introduce GM-less games.

4. What’s been your best gaming experience recently? Why?
The second session of InSpectres, after finally finishing our Burning Wheel characters, and having a few hours left of our session, but not being ready to start playing BW. Three of us had played it previously, so we introduced Lars to it, and had a job interview scene with him, which was awesome! The rest of the scenario had Lars fully and utterly grabbing the spotlight and all of us laughing our collective asses off. Great game.

5. What’s been your most problematic or least satisfying gaming experience recently? Why?
Well, unfortunately The Governor's Daughter earns this spot for the most recent session. I was happy with the session, but we had a player vs player conflict end with the death of one of the player characters, which was rather pointless, plus our theme document was violated in the process as well. Things seemed alright at the time, the game continued, Daniel even managed to burn up a character during the remainder of the session, and we ended with his new character being introduced in a very exciting fashion. "Wow, awesome!" I thought, but apparently in the car ride home, the three players kept discussing how pointless this death was, and focused on how Lars wasn't a team player. So now everyone seems POed. Ho hum...

6. What gaming are you looking forward to in the near future?
Getting more comfortable with The Burning Wheel, so we can get our campaign to move faster clip, and not have to reference the rules so much.

I too, just like Anders above, want to play a complete story arc of Polaris, and I'd actually like to do so with Anders and Jonas.

7. Name one thing your group does that you think could help others make their gaming better.
We're getting quite good at comparing games and systems, and finding why one works for us, and contrasting that to other ways of playing. We are also good at calling for breaks and stepping outside for some fresh air when we notice that we need to get away from the gaming table.