Saturday, May 16, 2009

Easier PDF reading on laptops and netbooks

I know a lot of people use wee-PCs at the gaming table. Today, via Lifehacker, I found EeeRotate. This is a tiny program that does one thing. It sets up hotkey combinations to rotate your screen by 270 degrees (and back). Suddenly, your netbook can be turned sideways and you have a full-page display for viewing PDFs.


This was designed specifically for the EeePC, but it should work with any PC. If works just fine on my HP Mini. I showed it to Angela and she asked me how I liked my new Kindle.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Its Just A Game, Part II: Emotional Insulation and Player Characters

This is something of a follow-up to my last post.

There have been times, in the past, when I've become too emotionally wound up with a character I've been playing. This happened more often when I was involved in LARPing where the immediacy and direct correlation between a player and PC was particularly strong. My playing style involves a degree of identification with my character. I still sometimes get upset if bad things happen to my PC that I didn't want to happen. With a few exceptions, character death is no fun for me.

Now, I tend to deliberately play PCs who themselves aren't upset when bad things happen. They may be exceptionally stoic, composed, or flippant... but just as often they don't perceive the bad things in a normal way.

In Nobilis, for example, I am essentially playing a spirit of chaos and secrecy. He had his life threatened in game recently. It was about as credible a threat as possible, and the reason for it was based solely on his identity. This might have bothered me as a player more, but my character responded by focusing on the novelty of the situation. He took the threat seriously, but more of as a challenge and opportunity than as something to be upset by.

Another character I played (in a different game) was insulated by a combination of an overdeveloped sense of his own capability/invinceability and, ummm... self-medication via magical drugs.

These are extremes, though. I'm currently playing in two 3.5 games. In one, I play a religious monk - he takes solace in his faith and asceticism. In the other, I play a gnomish beguiler who has been in training for a life of adventuring. He accepted the risks a long time ago, and has some particular drives to fall back on for inspiration. In a third game (Morrow Project using WoD rules), my character is sort of an ass. He's extremely well-composed, which helps... but he also probably deserves whatever he gets.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's just a game

It is a trite sentiment that annoys some people, but it is true... and important to remember.

How many people have ever gotten upset or angry while roleplaying... enough to ruin your fun? Of those remaining, how many have ever been part of a roleplaying session that was derailed when someone got upset or angry? If you don't fall into either of those categories, I suspect you either haven't been roleplaying much or you have been very lucky.

Back in the late 1990s, I was heavily involved in Vampire LARPs. There was a good bit of out-0f-character politicking, backbiting, and stress for many of those with whom I played. I wasn't immune to it. It took me moving halfway across the country and having some other roleplaying experiences to really get some perspective on what I'd been involved with. Gaming had become a responsibility rather than a recreational activity. It was a social outlet, but I didn't actually like some of the people that I was socializing with (not a surprise with a huge group). Was I having fun? Sometimes. Was it an efficient producer of fun? Not really.

Since I moved away, I have changed the way I approach gaming. If I don't enjoy a game, I don't play in it. That seems like a no-brainer, but it is a rarer attitude than I think it ought to be...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Great GMing Advice

Sometimes the best GMing advice isn't directed at GMs. Applied Game Design is a blog about game design in general. It rarely (if ever) focuses on tabletop RPGs. Today's post, though, provides advice on level docs for a computer RPG. Most of it is spot on for designing tabletop RPG encounters (and dungeons). Read it. It's worth it.