Friday, November 26, 2010

[Solo GPC] 514: Royal Wedding (Part II)

Some time passed between our previous session and this one, so when we sat down to find out what became of Sir Herringdale on his quest it was with more than a hint of apprehension. I had cleverly structured things so that neither of us knew whether Herringdale survived the quest...and the opponent I had in mind meant that I for one was hoping the outcome would remain in doubt even during the session itself. With that in mind, we picked up our dice and proceeded, trading grim looks of understanding...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

[Solo GPC] 514: Royal Wedding (Part I)

It's been entirely too long since the last campaign update, and I do apologize for that. Suffice to say the usual excuses apply: real life, blah, blah, etc. So let's just gather around this bounty of Pendragon goodness and feast our turkey-sodden (here in the U.S. at least) eyes upon the events that befell Sir Herringdale and his kin in the Year of Our Lord, 514.

By mutual agreement, this was to be the year that Des debuted Herringdale's daughter, Lady Meleri, as her backup PC until such time as Herringdale takes his final bow (voluntarily or otherwise...).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Synchronicity

Interesting timing that my copy of Traveller: The Classic Books should arrive the same day that The Sword's new classic-sci-fi-themed music video debuts...

In all seriousness, this is actually the first time I'll have any edition of Traveller in my possession. I'm looking forward to diving in and seeing what all the hype and nostalgia is about. Along with supers, classic sci-fi is the one genre I've never really played or run and that I'd very much like to at some point in the future. When I do, I'll be sure to refer back to the above video for inspiration.

(And if you're wondering what happened to the Pendragon updates, I'm working on the next one and may even have it up for your Turkey Day reading pleasure. The management appreciates your patience and cooperation during this unplanned interruption.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Crass Commercialism

I don't normally advertise my eBay auctions here, but I know there are a lot of folks in this corner of the Blogosphere who would like to get their hands on a table copy of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, and I've just offered one at a more than fair price (just clearing space on my shelves):

Do I have a bidder?

And in the vein of Destination Unknown, have a free, tangentially-related video:

Friday, November 5, 2010

RPG Alternate Histories

No, I'm not talking about alternate histories as settings for RPG campaigns. Grognardia's post yesterday got me thinking about a little thought exercise that popped into my head several years ago: what would RPGs look like if they had developed earlier than the 1970s and in doing so gained more distance from the advent of video games?

James M. proposes in his post that RPGs might just be a sort of transitional entertainment medium to video games in the same way that the Walkman gave way to the iPod. As is pointed out in the comments, this is a somewhat weak analogy, as tabletop RPG gaming didn't necessarily lead to video games so much as influence their development. It has long been my opinion, however, that traditional RPGs suffered an inequitable trade-off in the bargain, losing much of its creative and fan base to the video game market they helped foster and influence. In effect, the RPG hobby simply suffered from a case of poor timing - coming just a few years before the Atari revolution began ushering video games in as America's premier form of home entertainment - and I've often wondered what would have become of the hobby if RPGs had had a few more decades of "lead-in time" before the advent of video games.

Of course, to imagine RPGs being developed in, say, the 1950s or even the 1930s is to ignore the very specific factors that led to the development of the medium in the 1970s, with the pulp fantasy paperback revolution and the burgeoning wargaming hobby of the 1960s being the two biggest factors. However, it's not impossible to imagine RPGs developing earlier. Wargaming's been around in some form or another since the 19th century, after all. I read somewhere that the concept of Hit Points (or Armor Class...I can't recall precisely) was lifted from Fletcher Pratt's Naval War Game of the 1940s. The wargaming hobby community started to form in the 50s, making the development of RPGs as we know them theoretically possible from that point forward. It's even conceivable to imagine RPGs taking shape in the 30s in the wake of the first pulp fantasy renaissance (and publication of The Hobbit rather than Lord of the Rings).

Of course, this does give rise to an interesting thought experiment. The iconography and mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons and other first-generation RPGs was very much a product of its time that, despite mutations and permutations, continues to exert a strong influence to this day. What if RPGs had developed in the 30s, 40s, or 50s? I think it's safe to say that our picture of what an Elf looks like would be drastically different...

For that matter, RPGs might not have even developed out of the wargaming community; even if they had, popular wargames of the time weren't nearly as sophisticated as they would later become. The first popular miniatures game, Little Wars, didn't even use dice but rather spring-loaded cannons!

Castle Falkenstein engaged in a bit of this thought experiment, imagining RPGs developing during the Victorian Era and featuring cards rather than dice as the randomizer (only cads and bounders play at dice!) and featuring character journals rather than mere sheets. It's interesting to speculate on how RPGs would have developed given an extra century before the advent of computer games provided some sort of alternative for those interested in participatory fantasy escapism...
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