Monday, 14 January 2013

Back to the Drawing Board

The best-laid schemes of dice and GMs go often awry.

...Sorry. I know, it's another thousand years in the punsters' purgatory for me.

For the last while, I've been hoping to get a game going in association with the campus roleplaying club, WARP. I often run games at the semi-regular "mini-cons" and conduct seminars on GMing that are well-attended and usually get me good feedback. I had hoped that a game with people outside my usual "comfort zone" -- players who aren't completely on-board with my style -- would present a challenge which would help me improve my skills.

Unfortunately, I didn't get enough players to get a game started. I expected that I might get a little reluctance to join up with the game and concept I was selling -- a Wild Talents game of superhuman revolutionaries fighting against the super-villains who rule the world. Gritty supers games are, as Dennis Detwiller says in the introduction of WT, "a niche of a niche", and I knew players might be hesitant to jump into a game where the odds were stacked that high. Fair enough.

I've been champing at the bit to do some more GMing, and also to try some new things in gaming, and what I've decided to pursue is an online game instead of an on-campus one.

My previous experience with online games have been entirely text-based -- I ran a Rifts game and a Warhammer Fantasy game via e-mail / posts, and played in a Warhammer game via chat. Neither was entirely satisfactory, though we did have some fun there. Both of them ended up being less like tabletop RPGs and more like interactive stories.

This time I'm using a tool called Roll20 -- a virtual tabletop program which is currently in beta. Roll20 operates entirely within your browser, which makes it very accessible, and it includes lots of lovely bells and whistles such as video chat and built-in music and sound effects.

This is certainly an appealing solution for older gamers -- many of my old gaming pals are now spread to the four corners of the globe, and it would be great to sit down at the virtual tabletop with them and revisit some of our old games or try out new ones. I'm currently prepping a short Western game called Blood Money to give the whole thing a good test drive. I will post my experiences as they unfold.

There is a very good video introduction to Roll20 and the tools it brings to the party here:

Note: I should also mention that it was Jolly Blackburn who turned me on to Roll20 in the latest issue of Knights of the Dinner Table. I'd heard of Roll20 before, but Jolly was the one that got me to take a closer look. Another thing I have to thank Jolly for, in addition to many years of laughs. Thanks Jolly.

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