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Ascendant Behind the Screen Yearling Long Timer

cassbackward's Bio

What nearly thirty years of gaming have taught me

(In roughly chronological order)

  1. Girls can, too, play.
  2. In the sequence OTTFF, the next letter is S.
  3. A piece of lucite over graph paper or a chalkboard and a yardstick are all you need for mapping.
  4. Anything drawn in purple is evil and must be killed forthwith.
  5. You can know the rules without necessarily knowing how to role-play.
  6. You can know the rules without necessarily knowing how to run a game.
  7. That feeling you have, early on, that there must be more to this than rolling dice is right.
  8. You don’t really need to map anything.
  9. Online text-based gaming is fun!
  10. Just because someone on an online text-based game is called a Storyteller doesn’t mean he knows how to tell a story.
  11. Games that allot rewards on the basis of popularity will turn you into a manipulative twit.
  12. Running a game isn’t so hard as long as your players have very low standards.
  13. Give your players NPC’s they can love and trust.
  14. Then take them away.
  15. It is okay not to include all your gaming friends in every game.
  16. Smart boys who can do spot-on Irish accents are hot.
  17. You can meet the love of your life through gaming.
  18. Games in which everyone is your helpful, competent friend are boring.
  19. When you move away from everyone you’ve ever known, gaming is a good way to meet new people.
  20. In live-action role-playing (LARP), everyone can wear great costumes, show off amazing props, and have detailed character backgrounds, and it will still be a boring and expensive costume party.
  21. And yet they still show up. Month after month. For years.
  22. Without gaming, you can get really lonely.
  23. There are other gamers out there for whom character and story are more important than rules!
  24. Play-by-e-mail (PBEM) is fun!
  25. A little HTML will let you share and preserve your favorite characters and their stories forever.
  26. With a great game master (GM) and a rich setting your character can actually grow and change in a way that can’t be quantified with experience points.
  27. Without gaming, you can get really lonely, and when you get really lonely, you get a little crazy.
  28. Play-by-post (PBP) is fun!
  29. You can learn something about writing from gaming.
  30. You can meet some real [female reproductive anatomy (plural)] in PBP: anonymity emboldens the mean.
  31. But you can also meet your new, beloved, very best friends through PBP, no matter where they are in the world.
  32. It helps, in every game, to have an NPC who means something to your PC—someone who needs your help. That character anchors you to the world and helps you to understand the stakes of your every endeavor.
  33. Even when LARP is full of genial people whom you like very much, it is still pretty boring.
  34. Yup. Still boring.
  35. And when writing LARP, less is more.
  36. Video-conference gaming doesn’t work as well as you might hope.
  37. “Role-playing” on Second Life means something completely different.
  38. Everything you learned about online text-based gaming pertains to gaming on Second Life.
  39. PBP is still fun, but pairing PBP with a table-top game can detract from the interactivity at the table.
  40. To enliven the table-top experience as a player, think harder about which player character’s life you’re going to complicate this week, and how.
  41. Play the buffoon, the child, the omega; it gives you a reason to provoke interaction with the other players and a way to make them giggle.
  42. Let your characters die.
  43. Steve Jackson has ruined Champions.
  44. When a game, a whole campaign, seems to be dead at the table, turn yourself into the conduit that keeps story circulating.
  45. Mess with your friends.
  46. Ask embarrassing questions.
  47. Maneuver your friends into situations in which they have to demonstrate their character through action.
  48. Not every story has to be a love story—or at least it doesn’t have to be a story about falling in love.
  49. All these new-fangled rules systems that promote story actually constrain it.
  50. Never let someone else pick your rules set for you; if you’re running the game, run it any way you want.
  51. Dungeons and Dragons isn’t as much fun as I remember.
  52. Wait. Did I ever like Dungeons and Dragons?
  53. When expectations are at their lowest, that’s the time to strike: take your shot at GMing.
  54. Savage Worlds is pretty awesome.
  55. Even when you’re really tired and have no story, just open your mouth and maybe a game will come out.
  56. Every Nazi comes with four hand grenades.
  57. You can never have enough Nazis.
  58. All you have to do is act like assholes and kill people.
  59. I am not GM For Life!
  60. You can kill only so many goblins and orcs before it starts to feel a little like work.
  61. Running PBP for one person is much easier than running for a group and better utilizes your fiction-writing skills.
  62. Okay, I might be GM For Life.
  63. Create a spreadsheet, and sketch out the agendas of your game’s various factions over the course of a putative campaign.
  64. Random generators are overrated; MadLib your players to come up with names of important places and institutions in your game.
  65. Problem, complication, complication, outcome. Do that three times, and you have an evening’s session.
  66. Obsidian Portal is great for managing a campaign, but you do have to post to it.
  67. Scrivener is great for managing a campaign from session to session.
  68. Cater to your players’ paranoia: in story world their worst nightmare will be your best story.
  69. By the end of the evening you will have loved running your game.
  70. Mutants and Masterminds might be better for superheroes than Savage Worlds.
  71. The tabula rasa character concept is like the silent loner concept—a cool idea that plays poorly: the whole point of role-playing is to tell your characters’ stories to each other at the table, and if your PC can’t, or won’t, you’re screwed.
  72. LARP is best when it’s run a little like table-top.
  73. Props and sets are totally overrated.
  74. LARP can actually be fun sometimes.
  75. Maybe table-top should be a little like LARP.
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