ars ludi

if you asked Ben's brain about gaming, this is what it would say

Fleeing From Goblins, West Marches-style

In Ben’s original West Marches campaign, he arranged the adventure-filled regions of his wilderness in order of challenge, more or less. The further you were from town, the more likely you were to be in an extremely dangerous place…

Ben tells an anecdote about his players fleeing from goblins for days, ultimately having to run so far they fled into a vermin-filled swamp. He also talks about the barrow wights in the otherwise pleasant Wil Wood – dangerous, but easily avoided, an in fact not that easy to find.

These got me thinking about non-mechanical difficulty levels for monstrous threats in general.

Some very cool ideas from Michael Prescott about determining a monster’s challenge by its behaviors, like how much they’ll pursue, how organized they are, etc. I think it has a ton of potential. Check it out.

“Bring me the finest gamers in town! Bring them on a platter!”

Meaty, behind-the-scenes documentary examining how our dark and epic Salem Fiasco game was translated into a movie, The Devil Walks in Salem:

[ direct link ]

Tons of fantastic moments with Caroline Hobbs, Jerome Virnich and Pat Kemp talking about our session and story games in general. Some great examination of the wheels-within-wheels that make a game go. Oh, and I talk a bunch too.

Thanks to Elke Hautala for putting the documentary together and Peter Adkison, the man with the plan, for making the whole Salem project happen!

Watch the Unwatchable Foreign Film

Jackson Tegu has been working on a hack of Microscope called Kaleidoscope:

Gather 3-5 players, set aside 2 hours, and make up an unwatchable “foreign” film using a pile of index cards and your crazy brains!

Use this step-by-step guide to guffaw your group through non-chronologically remembering a wildly bizarre movie that you apparently just watched together! On each player’s turn they write a part or moment into the movie (oh, I mean remember a part or moment of the movie they saw, pardon me) and insert it anywhere into the timeline you’re collaboratively creating!

Kaleidoscope, a thorough stand-alone hack of Ben Robbin’s celebrated Microscope: a fractal role-playing game of epic histories, has been simmering on my back-burner for a couple of years, and I want to share the laughs!

You can buy it right now.

Playing Games at PAX

If you’re going to PAX and you want to play some Microscope or Kingdom, you are a lucky, lucky duck.

Unless the Games on Demand schedule is lying to me, there is Kingdom on the menu for about half the slots. Not only that, but there are talented volunteers offering to facilitate some flavor of Microscope during every single slot on the schedule.

Every. Single. One.

Are there other games too? Yes! All the games! We have all the games.

First come, first served. Seating is limited. Do not stand up until the ride comes to a complete halt.

Rooms 305-306. That’s where I’ll be. Gaming.

Love for LUG Con

Not everybody can find folks to game with. Gamers can be rare and precious, like nuggets of sideros, the star-metal. Luckily for all of us, scientists have been working on this problem day and night and have finally invented a solution. They call it: THE INTERNET.

Enter LUG Con, the Let Us Game convention.

Free Online Gaming Con! Let’s Game all day and night for a week!

It’s always been tricky to schedule gamers with busy lives. Especially when we get older, have kids, cats, dogs, lizards, even husbands and wives. Maybe you don’t have any problems getting into gaming groups with lots of your gaming friends. Maybe you already have a daily/weekly/monthly gaming group. Maybe your local group is not willing to try something new, or different. Dang it! You want to kill some zombies or play a supers game for a session.

It’s September 1-7. Check it.

Terraforming VikingCon

May 3rd I’m heading up to Bellingham to attend VikingCon. I’ve never been. Will there be actual Vikings? Horned helmets, longships and kenning skalds? I’m kind of hoping.

In between hunting down authentic recitations of the Prose Edda, I’ll also be doing a panel:

Terraforming the Tabletop: World-Building in Tabletop RPGs (Sat 3-4 pm)
Tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons rely heavily upon their rich worlds and interesting lore to generate interest among players. However, the process for building a world for a pen-and-paper game is not the same as building one for a novel or television series. This panel will explore those differences with the help of some of the industry’s world-building greats. Panelists: Bruce R. Cordell, Ben Robbins, jim pinto, Jennifer Brozek, Jason Andrew

I happen to know that a few other cool cats from the Seattle area are going to be there as well. I’m looking at you, Abducted by Sharks.