Computer Games · General · Table Top RPGs

Why Fallout is not MY post-apocalypse

I first played the game Fallout when it was released, and I spent a lot of time with the various iterations of that franchise, missing only New Vegas. I love the nods given to the earlier media, such as the leather armor (the “road leathers” in FO4) referencing the costume Mel Gibson wore in the Mad Max movies, particularly The Road Warrior. I like the various factions and the description of the world after the disastrous war of 2077.

But these were not my gateway into the world after civilization.

In 1980 or so, I got the box set for Gamma World. I had been playing D&D for just long enough to be eager to devour each issue of Dragon when it got to my local library, and this new game was advertised, and something inside me needed the game. Some of my most memorable scenes were from that game. It still strongly influences me in my gaming choices. Unconsciously, I weigh every game I mean to get into against it. Every setting is measured against the world as imagined by its authors (as then interpreted by my 12 year old understanding of it).

So then what else gets there for me. Well, I missed out on the hype train around the recent edition of Gamma World as seen through the D&D4 lens, so I didn’t get it and really haven’t looked at it more. Shadowrun was also a post-apoc I could and did enjoy. The recent slou of games in the OSR tradition based to some degree or another on GW are really cool, and I have enjoyed as many as I have looked at. The upcoming nod from the guys behind Dungeon Crawl Classic looks really nifty. Also the background behind Wil Wheaton’s “Ashes of Volcana” setting for the Fantasy AGE game is pretty cool, though for me it misses some essentials.

The elements that make a post-toasty (term from THuD) cool for me include

  • It happened here- to some degree or another it is this world that has passed away.
  • Psionics or magic is a thing
  • Mutations can be both good and bad, but the chaos of the apocalypse leaves no two beings too similar.
  • The original critter needn’t be a human. Best if it is possible to be any sort of animal, robot or maybe even a plant.
  • The world has been destroyed, but there is hope still in our protagonists’ hearts. -I like a tale of rebuilding, not one of further drift into death.

I do not think there is any way the current iterations of the Fallout franchise can be anything like a real role playing experience as created by folks around a table. I do not see how it could be possible for the computer based games to allow for the amazing variety of possible characters a real tabletop game can provide, nor can it provide for the level of choice in the actions of the player characters.

 

 

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General · Table Top RPGs

Nobody Asked, But

Yeah, I’ll answer, anyway.

What do you mean you won’t buy ?

Well, it is not because of lack of interest. I am just not really wealthy, despite my living standard that is far above any of my royal ancestors. I occasionally come into a little money and splurge on a few books or a couple of Kickstarters. One of these most recent opportunities was my final grant for college at the same time as my tax return. I was very happy to be able to support The Pip System and Cortex Prime, and I am very stoked that both of these projects have funded and will be real books. I have had pretty good luck with the things I have supported, even the one that took two years to finalize with product in my hands.

What is so all-fired awesome about these dice pool games?

Yeah, I noticed that, too. I see that my two recent crowdfunded books are both dice pool systems. Some of my favorites from the past are also dice pool games, most notably Fantasy Flight’s iterations of Star Wars,  FASA’s Shadowrun, and <grargh> World of Darkness.* The way you feel when you can roll a bunch of dice to figure how things went, this is quite gratifying. I am also particularly fond of how in the Cortex Prime games, you get dice from several places on your sheet, roll them all and add the two best, or more if you pay tokens for it.

*(I was dragged into the WoD by my friends who wanted to play nothing else but those Critter: the Adjective games once they came out. Any appearance of enjoyment on my part is purely coincidental. I did get a little Soggy, though.)

Where is the video promised in a recent Facebook post?

Well, I tell you what is going on. Since Windows Movie Maker was deprecated, I have not found a satisfactory video editing program. I thought I had when I got HitFilm 4 Express, but I am having a lot of trouble getting my footage to work in that platform. It is just too feature filled for me to see past it. I still don’t have money, really, so getting the Adobe Creative Cloud is not happening since I have no desire to rent my software. That may totally be the wave of the future, but it’s just crashing on me and not letting me surf. I’m kind of too perfectionist to want to mess around with it too much, since that is frustrating and school is all I can manage this final quarter. Still I went to all the trouble to learn Photoshop, and I have found the freeware stuff entirely unfriendly for that. Maybe I should be more open to other paths.

So please don’t hold your breath for the videos, but they are somewhere in the future.

Thanks and Happy Waffling!

Computer Games · General · Miniature Wargames · Off the Farm · Table Top RPGs

Producers & Consumers

Throughout the history of games, the rules and the pieces have all been set by a few for the many to enjoy. Or so it may seem, anyway. Among the folks creative enough to enjoy games involving the imagination, whether they be boardgames using abstract tokens to represent troops and armor storming the WW2 battle lines, miniature wargames using models on a terrainscape of sand and styrofoam, or the people represented by penciled in sheets in a candle-lit living room; among these the lines blur considerably between the producers and the consumers. Whether it is a simple house-rule that makes sense to everyone around the table, or the DM’s long hours of effort to create an evening’s destruction and mayhem for her friends to carve their way through, or the player who has an idea and throws something together to sell to other players.

My creations are many. As yet I have only ever published one item, a sheet of stick figure miniatures that I made up for the Deadlands Reloaded game my friend ran us through.

Time to turn left on that side road. I had to wonder why my stick figure miniatures struck a chord with my friends and others. For the same token, why is it that I can be so much more immersed in a pencil on quad ruled paper dungeon adventure than I can in a more richly modeled environment, whether it is a detailed layout on a table top or the amazing world of the Elder Scrolls games? I think that while one shows me stuff, I am limited to what it shows me, see, while the more simplified makes me engage my imagination to fill in almost everything. It is the same thing as the difference between reading the Harry Potter books and going to see the movies. Am I the only one who thinks that however pretty and talented Miss Watson was, Hermione should have been curlier?

The same advantage holds for the recent spate of indy and OSR games that seek to pare down the rules complexity instead of getting every last thing nailed down into a table or chart. It is really cool to have five hundred pages of awesome new world to adventure in, but when I get one of those things, I find myself afraid to get some detail of the setting wrong; or worse, calling my GM on some detail they got wrong. I have been that insufferable know-it-all turd that dragged a game to a screeching halt over a detail that any GM should have felt free to alter at their own table. Sorry, Ted. (He won’t even play with me anymore, and who could blame him.)

Back to the topic, I guess, though I suppose I was more about the stick figures and rules light stuff.

Unlike a gallon of gas or a taco or a box of detergent, what we do with games almost immediately takes us from being a mere consumer of products to creators. Reading the first paragraph in a game should send pictures blazing through my head of ideas I had never seen in that way before. Even when the game is a lush world on the computer screen, my creativity goes into the experience in the same way a book is not complete without the reader’s participation. In short, we are all producers and creators. We always have been.

Thanks.

General · Off the Farm · Table Top RPGs

Heart-Breakers: the Ultimate Waffle?

Heartbreaker- (n) A role playing game that assumes tropes and mechanics from other published materials, specifically pre-3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons.

Or so I am told.

I was watching a video on You Tube by the guys over at Nerdarchy.com where they discuss why they won’t be making their own role playing game. You can go watch their discussion on You Tube. It got me to thinking about all of my endeavors of the kind and it occurred to me to ask a question.

Is the creation of a home-made role-playing game really the ultimate expression of the Game Waffler?

I know only that in my case, it was so. None of my efforts have been even a little bit original, nor was it very well written, nor was it innovative. Most of my work has been, in fact, cramming one game’s setting into another’s system, even when there is no way it would fit. Shadowrun to GURPS was my first try, and after months of late night headaches, I discovered my friends using a very simple work-around of dropping a lot of Shadowrun’s special effects and just keeping the core idea of near future dystopia mixed with fantasy elements by simply grabbing the GURPS books related to cyber-science and fantasy races, magic and so forth.

I am not alone in this. In fact, I think every game waffler has a ‘heart-breaker’ in them.

My next one mixes old OpenD6 mechanics with “Class” skills from Barbarians of Lemuria or BareBones Fantasy. That or I’ll just make some material to flesh out a world for Fantasy AGE. I guess I could always cram something I love into Savage Worlds, if I felt the need.

Or….

Welcome to the Games Waffler. Yeah. It’s like that.

How about you? What square pegs have you tried to hammer into inter-dimensional rifts?

General · Off the Farm

Events I am Attending

September 17, 2016

Science-Fiction Filmmakers’ Workshop

At Lower Columbia College, Longview, Washington.

Free tickets at the Eventbrite Ticketing Site.

Film-making is another thing I have dabbled in that has the same kind of creativity going for it as these games and the art I mentioned last post. My most egregious abuses of the arts have happened on stage or on video tape.

November 18-20

OryCon 38

At the Portland Marriott Waterfront, Portland, Oregon.

Oregon’s premiere science fiction convention. This one is rather more expensive, but it does bring back memories of Orycons attended ever so long ago in my late teens and early 20s. More information can be found here at their site. Tickets are $60 before November 5th. Right after the convention, the next year’s membership is about half price, generally speaking.

March 10, 2017

NanoCon

At Lower Columbia College, Longview, Washington.

Our own little convention here in town. Still looking for guests, if your famous. The theme this year is “Evolve” about the expanding science of artificial intelligence.

Prices between $10 and $50, depending on extras.

March 30-April 2, 2017

Gamestorm 19

At the Hayden Island Red Lion, Portland, Oregon.

http://www.gamestorm.org/

General · Off the Farm

Introducing the Games Waffler

For a long time I have been impossible to satisfy with any single game. Always to the next product I am looking; never paying attention to where I am or what I am doing. Today I am stoked about some Old School Revival riffs. In the past I have played a dozen or more games and I have encountered and enjoyed reading many more.

Last night I was wondering what to call this blog, and my wife pointed out that the only consistency in my gaming history is the constant waffling between one game and the next.