John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

  • Mood:

Thoughts on Gaming

websnark has a post about gaming designer John Wick, who is giving away a PDF game today.

I'm not familiar with Wick's other work, but I read the PDF in question and I read an article about being nasty with Champions disads that was linked in the Snark, and neither one impressed me much. They both remind me of the people in Richmond that satyrblade and I referred to as "game monkeys."

If you've done a lot of gaming, you probably know the type: they are very pleased by using the GM's Phenomenal Cosmic Power to screw the players, either by setting up an endless series of no-win situations, or using extremely specious rules "interpretations" to negate the characters' abilities and so forth. I remember a particular incident in which the GM was running Fantasy Hero and announced that no PC in his campaign was allowed to have higher than 14 Dex and 3 SPD, because any more than that was "abusive" -- whereas the average cannon fodder foe generally had a minimum of 18/4, and the big baddies (even the bricks) had 23/5 or more. The only time this particular GM was pleased with me is when I threatened to attack another player character -- oh, THAT made his eyes light up.

(FWIW, I was playing a fairly altruistic hero-type, or attempting to as best I could in this guy's cynical car-wreck of a game, and the other player was randomly attacking an NPC, so I leapt to the NPC's defense. In retrospect, I have a suspicion that the other player had just had enough and was attempting to go down fighting so he could tear up the character sheet and go find another game. But I digress.)

Anyway, it's been a long, long time since I've been in a game that was that bad. Even the Conan session I sat in at the last Dragon*Con, which in some ways was painfully bad, was wonderful by comparison. But the bitter taste is still there, and the John Wick article brought it back full force. To my mind, the Gamemaster is the facilitator of the game -- his job is to make sure that everybody has a fun and satisfying game, which of course includes himself. The "GM vs. players" mindset is not only alien to me, it's anathemic. Why would you want to stick it to your players? Geeze, man, they're supposed to be your FRIENDS!

Lest anyone misunderstand, that doesn't mean to just hand them goodies and have all the opposition roll over. That isn't any fun either. You need to give them credible challenges, and that probably means that they'll lose sometimes. But cackling over something like this?

For those of you who don't recognize DNPC, it stands for "Dependent Non-Player Character". I understand it's a fairly common Disadvantage among players, but after this little stunt, I had a severe shortage of DNPCs in my campaign.

One of my more resourceful heroes was a young lady named Malice. She was a martial artist who had a poison touch. She was fast, deadly and very lucky. She was also a big, fat thorn in Carter's side. She was getting too close to his secret, so he decided to retire her.

When she wasn't running around in black tights, Malice was taking care of her aging grandmother. Grandmama was not too fond of those costumed heroes, especially that Malice girl. She looked like a hussy in that tight little costume. And what right did they have to do a police man's job? Grandpa was a police man, after all (and the main inspiration for Malice to turn to a life of adventuring). In short, it would break Grandmama's heart if she found out about her granddaughter's secret.

By now, you should be getting the picture. Just show Grandmama pictures of her granddaughter getting into the Malice costume and everything will be hunky dory, right?


When Carter does things, he does them with style.

On Grandmama's seventieth birthday, Malice took her out to her favorite restaurant. In the middle of the meal, one of Malice's most hated enemies showed up on the roof with a bomb. Of course, Malice made an appearance. Her enemy (who knew she would show up) was prepared. He had a single agenda and he stuck to it. In the middle of the fight, he hit her with a paralyzing ray, ripped off her mask and threw her through the glass ceiling - right in front of Grandmama. The combined shock of seeing her granddaughter get thrown through the glass ceiling, fall fifty feet and slam to the floor was shocking enough. Add to it the realization that her granddaughter was that masked hussy was a bit too much for Grandmama to handle.

Her heart seized, and as Malice watched on, trapped in her paralyzed body, her grandmother died.

Malice retired the very next day and nobody ever bought a DNPC again.

Yeah. Congratulations on your ... uh ... victory. ¬.¬

Sounds like exactly the sort of thing the game monkey would do, and be extremely pleased with himself for.

-The Gneech
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened