Warhammer and the Age of Sigmar’s “Roleplaying” Rules

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I was reading this really interesting and quite long post about the change Games Workshop has made to the old Warhammer Fantasy Battles game to Age of Sigmar. In particular, some of the interesting rules they have put in asking players to, in essence, roleplay a character a specific way for a benefit. The example that immediately struck me was the one where the player is asked to insult, in whatever way they believe might get a reaction out of their opponent, for a re-roll. Given there has been a rather open and honest discussion in recent times about the amount of harassment in tabletop gaming, this is an incredibly poorly advised rule. Especially because the rules and mechanics of Age of Sigmar definitely trend to a younger brand of player, which aren’t going to use this rule well at all (not that I suspect older people will either).

There are other examples of similarly dumb to generally inoffensive roleplaying style rules in Age of Sigmar, which are worth looking over at the link above. Of course, I get why Games Workshop has added these rules, but I think they’re an incredibly bad concept and idea in general. Warhammer and its futuristic cousin, Warhammer 40k, have always been naturally prone to be of in character factionalism. People commonly like to yell out Waaaagh!!! when charging as orcs, or saying For the Emporer as Empire and so forth. Trying to force this kind of interaction into the game just feels forced, silly and more prone for abuse than literally anything else. Especially when those rules deliberately encourage players to actually abuse another.

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Speaking of Shadowrun and the Dragonspear Controversy

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When I last wrote about this topic about the trans character in Seige of Dragonspear – and I think at this point this will be my last update on the matter – I had prominently used the world of Shadowrun as an example. This was with good reason it turns out, because the designers of that game have on their official tumblr also weighed in on the issue surrounding Dragonspear.

There is a very good reason why Shadowrun has taken pains to be inclusive in its character options and in the universe that those of us currently writing have been lucky enough to work on in its nearly thirty year history. It’s not only because making the world inclusive is the right thing to do; and it’s not just because the Player Characters are presumed to be from the marginalized, downtrodden, and ignored parts of society that are now and are in the Sixth World reserved for or otherwise filled with racial, ethnic, gender, religious, and other minorities (or majorities—numerosity doesn’t necessarily translate to political power); but at the end of the day, being an inclusive and open world is the right business decision.

This criticism is the desperate cries of dinosaurs as they struggle against the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinctionIt’s loud and violent, and in the end it’s just as successful.

While this tumblr is supposed to represent the Shadowrun tabletop game, the entire universe and all of the properties share these same traits and considerations. Shadowrun, in video game or tabletop RPG or novel or any other format, will continue to move forward and I expect that D&D, Pathfinder, etc. and Beampod will also continue to move forward because the future is open and inclusive. And if you don’t like it, too bad.

UPDATE: To be clear, these negative comments are in no way “criticism” of the game. It’s whining by bigots trying to impose their own biases on commercial enterprises that have made their position on their fictional universes and in who they hire and promote to continue those universes. This whining does not deserve anything more than to be ignored.

If you don’t like it, you’re free not to buy the product.

It would appear I picked my example of Shadowrun to use in that post very well! I absolutely agree with what they wrote and I certainly hope that the tabletop community continues moving in this direction. It also reminds me that I really do need to get a few more Shadowrun books to round out my RPG collection before I start my new campaign next month.

Blacked Out: Power of Lightning!

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So last night while I was trying to do some all important blogging and writing, I got quite a shock when a sudden massive sound – rather like an explosion – happened somewhere near by. It was so loud that it drowned out the music I was listening to and I could even feel the shockwave. Initially I thought that a transformer or something similar had exploded, but it turns out the explosion wasn’t really an explosion, but lightning hitting a tree just across the road from where I live. This is the aftermath of the tree in the light of day today:

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Crabbing About Friday: Ghost

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While on a late night walk at one of the beaches near my house, I couldn’t help but notice the inhabitants of the little holes in the ground had come out for a midnight feast. Getting close, I found they would always immediately duck down into the hole, making photography rather difficult. So with some guile and cunning, I was able to catch one for a couple of photographs. These ghost crabs are very cute!

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Training Day: Of Maps and Theaters

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 photo ravenlofty_zpsxu7fejfh.jpgThis map doesn’t give you precise distances and similar, but it does give a good idea what the dungeon looks like and its potential inhabitants.

Recently someone emailed me and asked about how I approached using maps in my various games. This question is a bit bigger than my usual “Ask the guild” fare, so I decided that it deserved a longer response by itself – because it’s quite contentious! There are actually two general schools of thought for how you should present and use aids like maps in a game, with one being “Not at all” and the other having a variety of different styles. Depending on what you’re trying to do, providing your players with a map or making them draw it themselves can be a core part of the gameplay. On the other hands, sometimes you might not need a map and there are various circumstances where that speeds up play quite substantially.

So, firstly, let’s talk about where you might want to use maps and why you might not.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer

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So Rogue One, the first of the Star Wars movie spin offs, has a trailer out now and it looks pretty gritty compared to the other movies I have to say.

While I am pretty enthused for this, I have to admit a lot of my excitement has more to do with other potential uses for the films material. For one thing, Rogue One is set back in the original trilogy of films time line, so it gives more details, world building and potential characters/places to explore for a Star Wars RPG campaign. Not to mention that I’m awfully fond of FFGs X-Wing miniatures and Armada, both of which take a lot of their new ships from the movies. I spent a great deal of time trying to see what potential new ships might come out of Force Awakens, for example.

Sadly the Force Awakens didn’t really have a lot of new material for either of those games, so I am hoping that Rogue One delivers a few new fighters. Hopefully it will manage to be a good movie as well!

Wild Photography: Kooky Kookaburra

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While on one of my numerous walks around the wonderful nature paths around where I live, I happened to spot this Kookaburra sitting on the rail to the track. Initially I took a lot of photos at quite a distance, but then when I noticed it wasn’t paying me that much heed, I decided to get close. How close?

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Pretty close.

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Ed Greenwood on Dragonspear’s “Controversy” [Updated]

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7/04/16 Update: Ed Greenwood has responded further on the issue, elaborating a bit more explicitly on what the lore for the realms did or didn’t include since its inception. I have included the additional quote below.

It would seem that even Elminster himself (Ed Greenwood) has heard of the recent kerfuffle over a certain video game and has decided to write a response. I’ve decided to quote it here, because it’s fantastic to see someone who created the source material directly contradict those who say “This doesn’t work in the setting!”.

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Narrative Thoughts: When Reality is Implausible in Fantasy

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It goes without saying that there is yet another ridiculous controversy in gaming, this time involving the release of the latest Baldur’s Gate expansion, Siege of Dragonspear. Sadly it’s not about the fact they’ve actually released an expansion to a game that is, by all accounts, incredibly old by this point in a “Why now?” sense. Unfortunately this controversy revolves around a progressive character they’ve included, a transgender cleric called Mizhena. The particular complaint and why this is a problem? Well, that’s sadly where things get incredibly messy and once again, the inclusion of non-straight cis-gendered characters has been called into question.

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