Happy New Year

The new year is now about a week old and I’m enjoying the last days of my winter vacation. I used the last weeks to relax and recuperate. Basically at the last minute my wife and I decided to stay at home over New Year’s Eve since fighting against depression has really drained our batteries lately. Overall things have been much, much better than in the years before, but at the end of the year I felt like “butter scraped over too much bread”. So I played a lot of video games, watched several movies, had great food, and spent a lot of time on my couch.

I hope you don’t mind me writing a bit about non-RPG stuff today. There are a couple of things I really want to share and this blog is the best way to do so. I want to begin with my thoughts on a movie I watched recently on Netflix: Ready Player One. When I first heard about the book, I was pretty excited, so I eventually picked up the audio book. But – oh boy – I couldn’t even listen to the first thirty minutes of it. The book was read by one of my favorite narrators, so it was probably Ernest Cline’s writing. Regardless of what was the cause, I really wasn’t interested in watching the movie after that. When it was recently released on Netflix I thought: “What the heck, why not give it a try?”. I have to admit I was very positively surprised since I enjoyed the movie very much. It was a fun, nostalgic romp littered with pop-culture references. I had a great time watching it and immediately afterwards I ordered the Bluray disc to add it to my collection.

Ready Player One also got me interested in VR again. I’ve tried VR several times, and most of the time I was suffering from severe motion sickness. I don’t know what changed, but this time I basically had no motion sickness at all. Since I don’t own a “real” VR headset I used a Google Cardboard headset, my Samsung Galaxy S9+ smartphone and a software called VRidge/Riftcat which basically streams the VR images from a PC to a mobile device. To my surprise this worked better than expected. Sure, you don’t get full six degrees of freedom like with more expensive solutions, but it worked fine for me. As soon as I get a more comfortable replacement for the Cardboard headset, I’ll definitely play some more Elite: Dangerous and Star Trek Bridge Crew among other things.

I’ve already done some research into what VR headset to get. Both the HTC Vive and Valve Index are too expensive for my tastes, so the three candidates on my short list were the Playstation 4 VR, the Oculus Rift S, and last but not least the Oculus Quest. Since I don’t own a PS4 the PS4 VR turned out to be the most expensive solution. To my surprise the Oculus Quest came up on top. It is wireless and standalone, so you can play VR games even without a PC. There are already countless impressive games available for the Quest and more are on the way. In addition to that Oculus Link allows it to stream games from the PC to the Quest. Sure, it’s not the same thing as using a dedicated PC VR headset, but from what I’ve read the experience is very, very close. I also like that the Quest doesn’t need external sensors. Recently they also made hand tracking available for it by a firmware update, which could be extremely cool. Overall the Oculus Quest looks like it could be the perfect VR solution for me.

When it comes to tabletop roleplaying things have been pretty quiet lately. I think I already mentioned that I distanced myself from a few people. Since I did a lot of gaming with those people, I haven’t really played that much in the last few months. I also developed anxiety related to GMing. Sometimes even the thought of running a game can cause acute symptoms. This sucks! Luckily playing is fine and I joined a new gaming group recently. But I really hope I’ll able to get into GMing again in 2020. But I don’t think I’ll try to rush things. We’ll see how it goes.

Last but not least I want to give a recommendation to people looking for a really good computer roleplaying game. Over the holidays I picked up a copy of Disco Elysium and it’s as good as everyone says. It’s pretty quirky and surreal at times, but it’s so much fun to play. I’m far from having finished it, but so far I enjoyed every minute of it.

So, what have you been up to lately? Feel free to share your thoughts below. And if you have any questions regarding the things I was writing about today, feel free to ask away.

Getting Children into Gaming

There are a few popular games for getting younger children into gaming. The most successful is probably Hero Kids by Justin Halliday, with Amazing Tales by Martin Lloyd coming in second. Both games are aiming at gamers as young as 4 years old, which is pretty impressive.

In December I was involved in some idle chatting on a discord server and we started talking about simple systems aimed at children. Before the evening was out we had roughed out a basic core mechanic and were adding in what amounts to feats, magic items, and monsters.

As these things do, it soon took on a life of its own and last night we released our own RPG. We think the target audience is in the 8 to 12 age group. It is a very long time since I have been 8 to 12 years old and those were simpler times, or so we like to tell ourselves.

The game is called The Things That Grown Ups Cannot See, or Things! for short. Right now it is in that nerve-wracking stage of trying to find playtesters.

If you know someone with children in that sort of age group and they are interested in RPGs they can grab Things! as a free download from DriveThruRPG.

The core concept of the game is that the player characters are living normal lives in today’s world, they go to school, they have Instagram accounts and mobile phones. They are also special in that they can see, the fey world, the things that grown-ups don’t seem to see.

The style of play is very much narrative. There is an in-game meta currency called Power and when a play spends a Power Point they get to take over the narrative until the next player or the Storyteller (GM) spends a Power Point to take control of the story. Think of Power as Fate points in many other systems but here they are the central motive force driving the story.

The more games you read and play, the more bits that get stuck in your mind. Some things are instantly brilliant and you love them. Others may be good ideas but poorly executed and others just don’t work for you. We could all make a list of game mechanics and everyone’s lists would be different. I would also wager that the same mechanic in one game may be a turn-off but in a different game, the same mechanic works well.

I mention this as in a game that took only a couple of hours to put the core rules together there is very little in here that is completely new if anything. The amusing thing is what I would consider its main influences. At least one grandparent would be Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of and another would be Zweihander, neither of which I would class a particularly child-friendly.

As to what came from where I will let you decide.

Happy Ending

A couple of years ago I ran a handful of posts about creating a game based upon playing cards.

At the time I just thrashed out the core rules.

In the next update I shared links to a playtest of a functional game.

Now two years after those first posts the game has not only completed its play test but I also ran a successful crowdfunding campaign for it and the final game has been released as both PDF and physical books.

What prompted this post was an email I received this morning. The content was a nice piece of feedback from a GM running the game with his group. He was not only running the game but he also shared the first house rule that they had developed.

It is one thing to write a game. Anyone can do that. It is easy to self publish, again anyone can do that. Seeing your work in print is quite cool but all it takes is a bit of software for the layout and €10 to order a set of print proofs. It is knowing that people are playing, enjoying and making the game their own that made it all worthwhile.

If it hadn’t been for this blog I don’t know if I would have ever come up with the ideas, or if I had, I am not sure I would have developed it into a working game.

So if you fancy trying something new over Christmas, you could do worse than checking out Devil’s Staircase Wild West.

A Roleplaying Games blog

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

If you leave a comment on our site you may opt-in to saving your name, email address and website in cookies. These are for your convenience so that you do not have to fill in your details again when you leave another comment. These cookies will last for one year. If you have an account and you log in to this site, we will set a temporary cookie to determine if your browser accepts cookies. This cookie contains no personal data and is discarded when you close your browser. When you log in, we will also set up several cookies to save your login information and your screen display choices. Login cookies last for two days, and screen options cookies last for a year. If you select “Remember Me”, your login will persist for two weeks. If you log out of your account, the login cookies will be removed. If you edit or publish an article, an additional cookie will be saved in your browser. This cookie includes no personal data and simply indicates the post ID of the article you just edited. It expires after 1 day.

Close