Hello and welcome again to The Force Does Not Roll Dice, the ETE feature devoted to tabletop roleplaying games in the galaxy far, far away. This time we are going to be tackling the topic that won a poll I conducted on Twitter months ago: emotions in roleplaying games. We are going to be chatting about how to go beyond the usual hack-n-slashing fare and construct an emotionally satisfying experience.
So first I’m going to define what I mean with emotional roleplaying. I’m not just talking about good roleplaying, about the ability that good GMs and players have to have their character fake emotions (although this is a prerequisite, as we’ll see below) but about the ability to evoke an emotional reaction from the players themselves, just like a novelist tries to evoke emotions from their readers. Emotion is very important to storytelling and RPGs are, after all, shared storytelling.
This is honestly not an easy topic to tackle and I’ve been reluctant to write a piece about it, because in my opinion there are few things as personal as emotion. For all the speeches that exalt emotion as a universal experience—that can even be a bit ableist, to be honest—the truth is that whatever my personal definition of “love” or “sadness” is, it probably has little to do with yours. We are getting into the realm of the abstract so we gotta tread very carefully: the best we can do is try to make our games more evocative, more resonant, more emotionally rich, but we have to remember that a game table is not a novel: trying to force the players’ emotional response is either going to make us fall into the insidious trap of railroading or create the most melodramatic, clichéd grub. And we are better than that! Hopefully!
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It’s time for the people back there to take over!
Welcome again to The Force Does Not Roll Dice, our section about the wonderful world of running tabletop roleplaying games set in the Galaxy Far Far Away. No, this piece is not about gaming in what is known as “the prequel trilogy era”. What we are going to be talking about is how to set up a prequel campaign to your existing campaign. So dust off your Jar Jar sipping cup, find your old Y2K survival kit, play your least-hated Limp Bizkit CD… and let’s game like it’s 1999!
First of all: I’m perfectly aware that, out of the many words that are likely to elicit strong reactions from the fans, the two most powerful ones are probably “canon” and “prequels”, but this article is not going to get into whether the idea of Star Wars prequels was pure genius or a regrettable mistake. I have my own personal thoughts on the matter, of course, but it’s completely undeniable that the existence of prequels has become one of the most important or at least one of the most popular facets of Star Wars storytelling. So, if one of our objectives as GMs is presenting a faithful “Star Wars experience” in our RPG, why not bringing this to the table? So let’s work together and see how we can make our own prequel game.
Before taking a look at how to run a prequel, I’m going to make a few assumptions here. First of all, I’m assuming that you’ve had a “source campaign” running for a while and that you’ve created enough lore and characters to draw from: to be able to create a prequel, you need some kind of original work first! Second, I’m also assuming that we are talking about a “prequel” purely in the manner of the Star Wars prequel trilogy: we are not talking about a series focused on the childhood of the current characters or about a distant prequel set in the Old Republic or even before that, but a prequel set one or two generations before the current series. Third: in an effort to make this article as useful as possible, I’m assuming that the prequel campaign is going to be either a one-shot game or a short campaign, but there’s nothing stopping it from turning into a long campaign or even completely supplanting your original game: it happened to me, and it actually was the best Star Wars campaign I’ve ever directed. But I’m being realistic: it’s hard enough to get a campaign running, so I’m assuming you will be more likely to run a one-shot between adventures. Most experienced GMs are not really going to need any of this advice, but I still hope that they will find a few useful ideas in here! » Read more..
Hello and welcome again to The Force Does Not Throw Dice, the very irregular ETE feature devoted to tabletop roleplaying games in the galaxy far, far away. It’s been a long time since my last piece but, after seeing the warm reception that my Star Wars RPG tweets usually get, I’m going to try to change things around and turn this into a more regular feature. So expect more RPG rants in the near future!
Last month we asked Twitter for suggestions for future features, and the topic of this month’s piece was inspired by Mario Escamilla’s question on the use of VIPs in the game. So first let’s define a VIP as any canonical non-player character, from a main character like Luke Skywalker to a secondary character like Officer Thanoth. Using canonical characters in your game is, to many gaming groups, intrinsic to roleplaying in the Star Wars galaxy. If we used the jargon from the old GSN Theory classification method, we could classify Star Wars RPG as a “setting simulation” system: although there can be a variety of approaches and many divergent campaigns can be played, one of the most common objectives is to make the game feel like it’s set in the Star Wars universe. Some Game Masters find that, alongside using known worlds and technology, one of the easiest ways to make sure that the game is unequivocally set in the galaxy far, far away is to have an established character guest star in it.
Yet using VIPs in your Star Wars game is not as simple as it sounds, and can bring some unexpected headaches if not thought through. Although all published settings come with their own canonical characters, be it the wizard Elminster from Forgotten Realms or the various corporate chairmen from Shadowrun, few can claim to have any characters as ingrained in popular culture as Han Solo or Darth Vader. So let’s take a look at some common challenges and mistakes when it comes to using VIPs. Let’s ask ourselves a few questions.
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Han rolled first!
Hello and welcome again to The Force Does Not Throw Dice, our irregular feature devoted to the world of pen-and-paper roleplaying games set in the Star Wars galaxy. This time we have a slightly different treat to offer.
For the past weeks I’ve been quite busy rediscovering a fantastic classic aventure called Tatooine Manhunt and writing a retrospective on it. During the research process, an idea came to me: a classic roleplaying article, the one you would find in fanzines back in the 1980s and that you can still find in several blogs around the Internet. I’m talking about a random table, on its most Gygaxian nature.
In the following table, you are going to find one hundred bounty hunter concepts, ready for you to flesh out and use in your games. Use this table if you desperately need to give some character to a random bounty hunter encounter (something that happens often in Tatooine Manhunt), if your players have been naughty and you desperately need a hunter to set their sights on them, or if you simply want ideas. If you don’t have time to stat them out, don’t worry about it: use the stock bounty hunter stats you will find in the rulebooks, no matter the system.
These descriptions are short and sweet, describing the general appearance and their weaponry, what usually makes a bounty hunter memorable; you are expected to flesh out the rest of the character, discard what you don’t like and change it to your liking. You might also want to use this table as a springboard of ideas for your fanfiction: feel free to do it! That’s the point.
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Han rolled the highest initiative
and thus shot fi– aw forget it
Welcome to another installment of The Force Does Not Throw Dice. This time, we are here with some advice for novice and veteran Game Masters alike. Because let’s be honest, sometimes you just have to run an adventure and just have no time to write any adventures. Thankfully, there’s a true and tried method called “The Five Room Dungeon” that can get you out of these sticky situations.
Ah, the job of a Game Master: never an easy task and most of the time a thankless one, and that’s without accounting for the hours spent writing and getting everything ready for the game. Back when we were college kids, we had all the time in the world to create our worlds, our characters, and our adventures. Things, alas, change. Being a GM and a responsible adult at the same time is not an easy task. Your friends are coming over this weekend with some pretty awesome BBQ pizza and they are going to be expecting you to be ready to guide them through several hours of fun, excitement and laughter, but you just had the worst week ever at work, plus your newborn has been crying, and you’re doing your taxes and just came back from driving your oldest to band practice… Your friends are three hours away and you are looking at an empty page. You have run out of published adventures to run. Who’s going to help the GM in desperate need for some adventure?
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