Time to take a quick look at what's going on here at RMS and for me to ramble about stuff for a bit.
1. Adventures in failed podcasting
I had John Stavropolous, Tavis Allison and Jason D Corley on skype the other day to record what was to be the first episode of The Master's Craft Podcast. The recording software was all fucked up however and I ended up with some 5 or 6 minutes of good audio out of what was an hour-long talk.
It was a great chat and worth having on its own but I'm very sad that I won't be able to share it with the rest of the world. Shit happens, right?
Still, I'll upload the chunk of audio that survived and summarize the rest of the talk and put that online, too, so other people can get at least a little bit out of our conversation (which was very fun).
I'm too intimidated to record a new episode now, at least until I get some better hardware or software, but sadly I'm too busy these days to dig into that, too.
2. Freeforming bastards
We had a short session of our Game of Thrones-inspired freeform-y game and it was pretty fun. It's a kind of play we haven't really dug into before (nevermind the fact that tons of our D&D sessions in high school were essentially freeform anyway). It was pretty fun, and the entire session was basically some worldbuilding followed by tentative roleplay of several characters that filled out a lot of info for us. It's amazing how you can just say "here, play this guy for a bit" and see how the world gets fleshed out around the character, relationships spring into existence, traits are assumed. The characters are complete bastards for the most part, with a few really grey characters and some more amiable ones.
That said, I don't think freeform by itself can provide enough momentum to keep the game going (creative agreement and all that), so I've been pondering a lot about which parts of the game to systematize and how. I've been pondering about a more Apocalypse World-ish approach, but Archipelago II is looking like a very good candidate for being plundered, too. I'll suggest Archipelago to the other players next time.
The Pathfinder: Eberron game is still running pretty well. I made a new character because I got bored with my previous one (all he did was shoot arrows that did "1 ogre/round" worth of damage). I now have an elf Inquisitor with a little more personality and some more tactical decisions to make in combat (thank god). I died very soon into the last combat of the session, because I got massively (and unexpectedly) criticaled by a pimped-out ogre magi. However we've got this setup where when our characters "die" they are just out of the game for a while (which is awesome for D&D). I know I'll be putting all my buffs in AC instead of attack and damage next time.
Anyway, I'm now playing one of the classes from the Advanced Player's Guide and Peter is playing a character made with the Book of Nine Swords. And looking at a lot of their abilities and how they work I must say I now hold the opinion that the post-3.5 iterations of the game are basically almost exactly the same as 4E, except 4E was redesigned from the ground up to fit those assumptions while Pathfinder/BotNS are twisting an earlier system to fit the same ideals. I'd say the only real advantage of 4E here is that it's more coherent and its classes more explicitly designed to work in synergy and fill specific roles. 4E's combat is a lot more transparent in that regard, which can be a two-edged sword imho. 4E's mechanics are also more streamlined and consolidated overall whereas Pathfinder still relies on a lot of disparate subsystems. Even so, the Combat Maneuver mechanics are a huge step forward from 3.x.
I realized a thing I really like about 4E (although not necessarily the way they've done it) is how your basic attack (the standard "I hit him.") is usually the last thing you'll want to do in combat, as you've probably got a bunch of other more exciting and powerful...khm...Powers at your disposal - the basic attack turns into a last-resort option. As I said I don't necessarily like how they've achieved this, but I think it's a worthy goal. In my Subterranean Adventures (the clone/hack/heartbreaker/houserule compendium that I've been hinting for a while) I'll try to approach it from a different direction.
All design is on hold as I try to deal with more important stuff. I really expected Sagas to be ready for the printer by now but it'll obviously take a while longer. Everything else is on the backburner, too, except I'm idly thinking about Subterranean Adventures and I have a few short notes about how to do Arcadia (the gothic/mystery/horror/fantasy game). Some day! :shakes fist:
Peter also mentioned ressurecting an idea we've had a while ago, basically creating a compendium of "game seeds" to serve as inspiration for pickup games. Each entry would (possibly) include an elevator pitch (setting and situation), an in-medias-res scene setup, maybe a small map, some random names/characters, maybe a random roll table/oracle and other inspirational material ideas. These would be catalogued under (sub)genres, so basically if you wanted to play a quick horror game you'd open that part of the book and plunder whatever info you needed to get things started in 5 minutes without thinking too much.
I think that's all I wanted to say about that. I promise something more interesting with the next post. I gotta pay more joesky tax.