Thursday, November 21, 2013

In Which The Warlock Interviews a Dread Pirate...

Now that I've recovered from the "30 Days of GameMastering" challenging, it's time to get back to our normal routine of entries.  This time around, I had a chance to catch up with an old friend:  Tim Riley, who's currently running a GoFundMe campaign for his new endeavor--GamePAWN.  Tim's been a community member of the Wittenberg Roleplaying Guild for quite a while, so this is definitely exciting...

You've been in the games industry for a while – who have you worked with and in what capacity?

Since I owned a store a lot of my working relationships have been with other store owners, distributors and with company owners.  I've worked with several small game companies, stocking their product and offering critiques as requested.  I have relationships with other folks, from seeing them at conventions and chatting online.  I've also worked with some of the local printers both for advertising and for production.  A long time ago I produced a couple of game books and got to know the process.

Tell us a little bit about what GamePAWN's mission is:  Why this company and why now?

Well, the why now is easy – I have time.  I can spend time finding the right people to introduce and take time to make GamePAWN work.
As to why this company, because I've been studying Kickstarter projects that fail to meet their shipping dates and it seems to me that most of the problems come with creatives that don't have access to business infrastructure and they spend their time and capital trying to set up the business framework required to run a company and then lose track of actually creating the product. I want to see if I can help with that.

What benefits would a creator see by working with GamePAWN?

Access to introduced contacts and to each other.  Insight on projects and plans. Looking forward, access to services like bookkeeping, payroll, marketing, copy editing and anything else we can do to make life run smoother.

How does GamePAWN fit into the digital revolution in publishing?

Even with the digital revolution you still need framework and access to the people who make the publishing work.  GamePAWN will work with creatives to find the best prices and most advantageous delivery schedules.  Sometimes better prices can be arranged when several companies are planning to use the publishers services and GamePAWN can help negotiate that sort of thing.

You're currently running a funding drive via GoFundMe – what does this funding go towards?  What does a pledge net me, as a game creator?

I'm planning for the funding to be used to sponsor networking events at the major cons.  A pledge will get you an invite and the swag from your sponsorship level.

Is there anything else you'd like our audience to know?

This will grow and expand as our members need.  We want to make this a useful part of a free-lance or start-up experience.  There will be room for growth and improvements as we find our feet and get an even better idea of what the membership can use.

Thanks, Tim!  I'm sure we're all excited to see what's in store with GamePAWN!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

30 Days of GameMastering--Day 30!

And this is it!  Our final entry in Lindevi's "30 Days of GameMastering" challenge!  One last charge unto the breach, my friends!

How do we grow the hobby?

Seriously?!  How is there not an RPG of this yet?!
We live in a golden age of geekery.  The Marvel cinematic universe has brought together some of the classic comic-book icons together in a cohesive internal mythology.  Comic book movies are now among the most anticipated films each year.  The Walking Dead has become an international sensation, breaking records with each new season.  A local Halloween attraction just south of Dayton now features a "Zombie Sniper Patrol" where you can live out your wildest zombie apocalypse fantasies, to say nothing of 10K runs that have turned into zombie-survival runs.  San Diego ComicCon has become the new Mecca for all things pop-culture.

It's easier nowadays to be published than anytime in history.  Anyone with an internet connection can start a blog or put together an e-book for publication online.  Digital correspondence allows artists, designers, writers, and publishers to collaborate and create product from anywhere in the globe.  For Cold Steel Wardens?  My mapmaker is from Germany.  My publisher is British.  My artists and editors come from all over the United States.

The frustrating thing on my end right now?  For as easy as it is to be published, for as high as the general public is on nerd-culture, the role-playing games market just doesn't seem to capitalize on what's popular.  While there is a new edition of Mutants and Masterminds corresponding directly to DC universe comics characters, there was no crossover with the recent Batman or Superman movies.  There's still no true Walking Dead RPG (which I'd love to write, if I got that license).  There are so many opportunities to capitalize on already-existing properties to usher in new players that it consistently astounds me that there aren't more RPG players and that those opportunities lie fallow.

For now?  The best thing we can do is keep pushing.  Keep spreading tendrils out there amongst the 'norms' and keep one mantra in mind:  "Oh, you like comics?  How would you like to play as a superhero?  Like zombies?  How about we run a zombie-apocalypse scenario?  I've got some dice you can borrow..."

Saturday, November 02, 2013

30 Days of GameMastering--Day 29!

Just two more entries to go in Lindevi's "30 Days of GameMastering" challenge!  Let's dive right in!

Teaching the game:  how do you sell players on the system while running a demo or convention game?

While I don't run games online, I do run them at conventions, as you followers of this blog well know.   Even before starting Cold Steel Wardens, I demoed WEGS and Pittsburgh 68, to say nothing of my numerous convention games at Origins and the many local conventions here in the Miami Valley.

Everyone has a different schtick!
Keep your PCs unique!
Firstly, I make sure to play up the major themes and archetypes in any game that I'm running.  This helps provide your players a jumping-off point, as well as helps them to understand the setting better.  For CSW, my pre-generated characters all echo already-existing comics characters and I describe them as such.  Dusk, for instance, is an unabashed pastiche of Nightwing, while Veritas is a slightly less psychotic Rorschach.   In my Deadlands one-shots, I included very archetypal Old West characters:  a big-game hunter, a riverboat gambler, a 'lady of the night', and an Indian ambassador.

However, this emphasis shouldn't just extend to your pre-generated PCs.  Rather, you should ensure that your adventure itself emphasizes the core themes of the setting.  One of my most successful convention games--the Deadlands one-shot included over in my free gaming materials:  "Westbound on the San Juan Express"--played this angle up with emphasis.  "Westbound..." emphasized the alternate history angle of the setting, as the PCs were hired to escort Samuel Clemens to Denver to deliver a speech, but also touched on the occult/horror theme, as the game also featured a mysterious Harrowed and a batch of walkin' dead, hidden away in the cargo cars.

I also try to ensure that PCs all have interesting, unique things to do and don't step on one another's toes.  In my "Reno Six-Pack" of Hell on Earth adventurers, I do include three 'spellcasters', but all three use different powers:  the Templar focuses on healing and self-buff powers, the Doomsayer blasts things with radioactive energy, and the Junker has Tesla-based gadgetry.  Even though the mechanics of their spellcasting is nominally the same, their form and function differ greatly, providing niche protection and covering unique bases.  Further, the non-caster characters cover numerous unique skills.  The Road Warrior, obviously, is the best at driving and piloting checks, but is also a terror in melee, wielding a mini-chainsaw.  The Harrowed gunslinger makes for an expert marksman, but is also a capable tracker and scout.

Taking the pain out of the system's learning curve also helps aid play.  After players pick characters in a CSW one-shot, I walk them through the character sheet, using one of the non-chosen characters.  In doing so, I also demonstrate what certain rolls look like, particularly showing how certain modifiers (for CSW, mainly Skill Specialties) fit into a given roll.  This tends to speed things up, though I often start each one-shot with an 'easy' encounter, where the players can get their feet wet in an environment that isn't going to harm them drastically.

Lastly?  Remember it's just a game.  For a one-shot--especially at a convention--it's a much better idea to fudge some rules for the sake of the game moving forward and players having fun.  Getting hung up in minutia, particularly with new players, isn't worth the hassle.  Make sure everyone's having a good time and that they leave the table satisfied.