Tag Archives: featured

Fallout Wasteland Warfare Q&A with Designer James Sheahan

FOWW-Starter-Box-Mockup_550x825Stargazer’s World is first and foremost a roleplaying games blog, but that doesn’t mean we can’t cover board or tabletop miniature games from time to time. One game I am very excited about is Modiphius’ Fallout Wasteland Warfare. It’s an exciting Fallout miniature game which can be played cooperatively, competitively and even solo. Since I am a huge fan of the Fallout franchise, I reached out to Modiphius and asked if James Sheahan, designer of the game, was willing to answer a few questions for us. Luckily he agreed. Before delving right into the interview I want to thank James for taking his time to answer my questions!

Stargazer: Thanks again for taking your time and answer our questions. Before we talk about Fallout Wasteland Warfare, let’s talk about you. Who is James Sheahan?

James: My pleasure, Michael.  I worked in video games for 10 years and then as a consultant/freelancer game designer for the last 12 years working for games companies, global ad agencies, Google and others.  Like most of us, I have played board games, RPGs, wargames and video games since I was young, and I love film and fiction too.  I actually didn’t start out in games as a designer, but I worked my work across into design as that was my main passion.  I have been very fortunate to have had a very varied experience – some of it, even I can’t quite believe.

Stargazer: Can you tell us a bit about how the idea for a Fallout miniatures game was formed? What problems arose during development? Feel free to share any interesting anecdotes – we love those! Continue reading Fallout Wasteland Warfare Q&A with Designer James Sheahan

Don’t ask what the GM can do for you

This post was first published in February 2013 on this very blog.

… ask what you can do for the GM. Or let it put me differently: it’s not the GM’s job alone to make sure the game is interesting and fun for everyone. Roberto’s last post focused on the gamemasters, so I thought I should focus on the players this time.

There’s a common misconception in our hobby that the GM is solely responsible for whether a game is fun or not. Sure, a bad GM may ruin a game, but more often than not this could have been avoided with the help of the players. Roleplaying games are a group activity and everyone at the gaming table shares the responsibility of making the game fun. So what can you do as a player to make the GM’s job easier?

Don’t be a dick!
This should be a given, but alas it’s not. All of you probably have heard horror stories about that guy, and a lot of us have actually played with him (or her). Just try to be nice to everyone and treat everyone in a way you want to be treated by others, and everything will be fine. Actually I could stop here, since “don’t be a dick” sums it up pretty well, but I guess, we should go into a bit more detail. By the way, this rule also applies to your character. In most RPGs the player characters are supposed to work as a team. Since when is a back-stabbing, mysterious, loner-type character a team player? You make the GMs job and the other players’ life much easier when you play a team player. That doesn’t mean you can play goody two-shoes only, but at least make sure you work with the rest of the party, even though its to further your own agenda.

Don’t argue with the GM during the game
Especially in most old-school games the gamemaster, dungeon master, referee, or whatever you call him (or her) has the last word when it comes to rules interpretations. His word is law. But that doesn’t mean that discussions about rules or the GM’s ruling crop up every now and then. The correct way is to accept the GMs decision during the game and – if there’s still need for discussion – bring it up after the game.

Help to maintain the atmosphere of the game
Often a GM tries hard to set a certain atmosphere for a game, but it just doesn’t work. The main reason is often that the players don’t support him. This is especially an issue in horror games. If you are an investigator in Call of Cthulhu searching a weird mansion for clues, avoid making jokes all the time, but try to imagine you were actually there, having the nagging feeling that something is terribly wrong. If one or two players work with the GM to set the mood, the rest of the players might actually join in. This will improve the game for everyone.

It’s not all about you
It can’t be said often enough: there’s no I in team. And there’s no I in party either! A lot of players feel the game is all about them. It’s not. The other players and the GM are as important. We all love to be in the spotlight from time to time, but try to avoid shoving your fellow players to the side. I’ve experienced games where the GM and one player basically were engaged in a 2-hour long dialogue while the rest of the players started building towers out of their dice or played around on their smartphone. Especially if some of the players is extremely active and extroverted, the GM might not notice that the other players are bored, because this person demands all his attention. In my opinion it’s the active players’ job to help the other players to get into the spotlight, too.

Play by the rules
I am not talking about the game’s rules, but the rules of the group. If the group is used to serious games, where talking out-of-character is frowned upon and where eating snacks at the game table is considered a mortal sin, try to not to force your less serious, tongue-in-cheek play style on the others. The same is true if you join a group that prefers a more light-hearted approach to the game. Forcing your play style on the group seldom works. Feel free to convince the other players to change their approach to gaming outside of the game, though. But doing so during the game is just a bad idea.

Be on time and don’t leave early!
Usually gaming groups decide on when to play and for how long a long time in advance. Especially with older gamers scheduling becomes a real hassle. Don’t put insult to injury by coming late to the game or leave early because of another appointment. If something suddenly comes up, make sure you inform the GM and the other players in time. That’s actually what I would consider common courtesy, but this issue still comes up in a lot of gaming groups. I can understand that the priorities change over time and some people take gaming activities more serious than others, but that doesn’t mean you should act like a dick.

Bring some snacks, drinks, etc.
In a lot of cases the GM is the one who puts the most time, effort, and money into the hobby. Often the games get played at his or her place, he or she buys the snacks, the game books that are used (including the adventures), provides handouts for the players, buys appropriate background music, etc. – I guess you catch my drift. You can make the GM’s (or the host’s – if he or she’s different from the GM) life much easier by bringing some snacks, drinks etc. that you freely share with the others. It doesn’t need to be every time and you don’t have to bring a lot, but it’s a simple way to show that you care about the game.

There are of course many more ways for a player to help to improve a game. What did I forget? What do you wish would happen at your game table more often (or less often)? Please share your thoughts below. Think about what YOU can do to be a better player!

Stargazer’s World 10th Anniversary

Yes, you’ve got that right, this very blog is now over 10 years old! When I started this blog in August 2008 I never would have thought that it would still be a thing in 2018. But now, 10 years later it s still a thing. It’s probably not as popular as it was around 2010, but it’s still alive and kicking. Over the last 10 years I’ve seen many RPG blogs come and go, and some of them I miss dearly. Unfortunately many RPG bloggers have lost interest in blogging or moved their activities from their blogs to social networks. The times are changing.

Interesting facts and statistics
During the last 10 years 2038 posts have been written by 20 different authors. These posts have been commented on 7989 times. The most popular post was Roleplaying City Map Generator from 2009 with about 173,000 views! The most popular review during these 10 years was my review of the Iron Kingdom Core Rules which has been read 9,046 times. The most-read interview was the one with Marc Miller (which I am very proud of). It was viewed 1736 times.

Personal Stories
Aside from writing about my favorite hobby I also used this blog to write about personal issues, mostly my struggle with depression and anxiety. Because of this I might have lost a few readers, but I found it extremely important to write about my mental health problems. For one it raises awareness and secondly it helped me to cope with it better.

The Future
I really hope this blog will have one. If you have followed this blog for a couple of years you might have noticed that we’re not posting as regularly as before. A lot can happen over 10 years, team members joined, others left us. More often than not pesky things like work get in the way.  But I am not willing to give up blogging anytime soon. I might not be as prolific as I was before, but I’ll keep writing posts as long as it’s fun. At this point I wouldn’t be that surprised if there’s a 20th anniversary in this blog’s future.

First and foremost I want to thank you folks, the readers of this blog. I would probably keep writing even if no one reads it, BUT it’s much more fun, if you get feedback! I also want to thank everyone who has ever written a post on this blog. You definitely helped to keep the blog alive. I have special thanks for Zachary Houghton, Phil Ménard and Berin Kinsman, who helped me a lot finding my own voice back in the early days of the blog!

P.S.: The featured image above is from the video game Fallout 3 by Bethesda Softworks is a screenshot taken during the quest “Growing Up Fast” in which the protagonist celebrates his 10th birthday. I found it quite fitting.