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Ghost Relic: Risk

So this is another new character but she may not show up immediately. Apparently, if you try to mix Sailor V and Lina Inverse, you get a Korean Dazzler. I dunno.

I got the writing prompt from here.


 

#170: Risk

Mina managed to slip out of the large auditorium and find a dark secluded corner. The singer let out a slow breath, thankful for whatever quiet she was about to get. She fumbled to get the eCig out of one of her pockets, pulling her coat tighter over her sparkly stage costume.

It was always an ordeal, leaving to take a small break after shows with the paparazzi, management, and fans breathing down her neck in that order.

She was almost about to relax when she heard a noise around a corner. She glared and slipped the eCig out of sight.

A scraggly jumped into sight, brandishing a small knife. He said something stupid demanding her valuables.

“Oh thank God! I was almost worried!” She was so relieved that she didn’t have to worry about ‘Pop Princess’ Drug Habit!’ being splattered on some hack’s Instagram just because she liked a Peach Vape after shows. She whined, wanting some peace, “Just get out of here.”

Of course, he didn’t listen! Her hand flipped out of her pocket, fingers out like a gun. ‘Pa~h!’ she breathed as a flash burst from her fingertips, knocking the would-be assailant out of sight.

She grinned smugly and leaned back against the alley wall. That was her favorite way of blowing off steam. Of course, the flash and the pop wouldn’t go unnoticed, and she heard a crowd headed towards her.

Mina cursed loudly and dove back into the auditorium. She couldn’t get a minute!

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The Guinea Pigs

My last post was about building a good player core. Great in theory, but how does it handle in practice?

As of now, I have 3 players. At this point, I need every single player to be a Good Player. To recap, that means I need three people to be creative, flexible, and willing. I can’t remember the last time I had that in groups of over a dozen. At least I can say this in front of my players without feeling any judgement: I am anxious as expletive! It’s not that I don’t think such a small number of people can’t be good. I know for a fact that it can. I’m worried that schedules will clash, because they always clash, and that everyone will wait so long that no one has any fun. If they don’t have fun, these three people who have never played together, I will have some kind of massive anxiety attack and try to hide underneath my couch. I won’t. But… that’s how this whole scenario ends in my head. Thankfully, they also know I’m neurotic. So I doubt they’ll judge me for that either.

The Ringer I’ve played with The Ringer almost non-stop in several games covering several years. When we haven’t been in actual games together, we played one-on-one free form games where we play out various characters and scenarios. There’s a certain freedom to that where you can literally be any character at any point and only have to mesh it with one person. If it’s a person you have good chemistry with, it’s almost a no-brainer. The only draw back is that I don’t want it to be a crutch. Thankfully, she’s run enough of her own games and still plays in various other game communities that she knows the importance of having a wide variety of interaction. She’ll be the one I lean on for game ideas and to keep things moving.

The Cheerleader Every game needs one. The Cheerleader will have so much enthusiasm for what’s going on that you can gauge instantly whether or not something will not play right. They’re responsive and will tell you if something is too difficult to understand or if there is something they really, really want to do. Their primary concern is that everyone around them is having fun because that’s how they have fun. They have that willingness through the roof. My Cheerleader is one of my best friends. She’s also a grad student in something biological. I know her schedule is tough to handle, which makes me nervous. She’ll try. It’s just a matter of how it’ll happen. I don’t handle unknowns very well. 

The Newb Every game needs about half a dozen of them. Newbs are fresh faces either to your system, your group, or gaming all together. This means they aren’t weighed down by the baggage most players have when it comes to bad game situations or bad chemistry with other players. It also means that they may need a fair measure of handholding and reigning in. The good thing about my Newb is that as her coworker, I have a damn good idea what her work schedule is going to be like. It also means my biggest fear for her is that she’ll have difficulty and a poor experience because of it. There are some things you just don’t want to hear at work. Also, she has a fondness for making me crazy. It will always make me look at her with suspicion. A very comedic suspicion.

That’s my player core. Hopefully it grows, but if it doesn’t, all I really want is for them to have fun. If they do, any impending anxiety attacks might well be worth it.

Building a Good Core

This is always my Step One in designing a game. That is to say this is the first step that actually requires any sort of effort on my part outside of saying, ‘You know what would be fun?’ This step is different from recruiting. A good game, whether at a table with four people or online with a dozen, always needs a good player core.

A good player, as far as my needs are concerned, have the following qualities:

  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Social Willingness

Surprisingly, those qualities are ranked from least to most necessary.

Creativity is important for obvious reasons. You need to know that once a player is presented with a situation, they can come up with a response. It doesn’t have to be right, or dramatic. All it does is have to be engaging enough through either description or dialog that the scene will continue. Your basic Intro to Improv without any of that nasty ‘people’ business to deal with.

Flexibility is the reason why posting is better than chat, and why online is better than a the table. A table requires multiple people to schedule time and travel to be around each other. These sessions can’t last more than a few hours assuming you have things like a job or a family or friends. Online takes the travel factor out of that. It even opens up the avenue to meeting new people you might not have before due to distance or crippling social anxieties. It also allows one to play more than one part in a game making it feel fuller. The posting takes the scheduling problems that can still happen in chat. But there is also other areas than simply getting together where flexibility becomes key. On several occasions, I’ve played a game where a scenario was literally stopped by another player going, ‘I don’t like the way your character reacted! Take it back!’ The same has happened because an ending did not turn out quite right. Yes. Grown people will demand take-backsies. Yet, if you state it that way, they will report you to the moderator and no one will play with you. You need people who have the ability to roll with it and not have a panic attack because you were a bad puppet that didn’t play along.

Social willingness might not even be the right phrase. It’s more than manners and sensitivity, though I have horror stories about those as well. Many people with experience with these games will be resistant to meeting new people. Even when put in a game with dozens of people, the extent of their actions will be the same four or five people they talk to all the time. New people are unpredictable. They’re unknown. They might not like cheese! Whatever the reasons, they’re off-limits. A good core player will have a willingness to make them feel welcome and make sure their characters are interacted with. Any good player will take a sincere invitation and play off of the scenario. It’s like being a team player, if a team involved two people who wouldn’t necessarily know each other.

The concept of a player core simply accepts that all things are never even. Not everyone gets the same spotlight and not everyone puts in the same effort. That’s not necessarily a show stopper. A player core includes your most active players. People whose opinions you trust where you can bounce game ideas off of and who you know will make sure any player is properly connected, not because they have to, but because they want to. A player core at a table is everyone, because you all know each other. Online, it can be anywhere from four to six people, depending on who you can manage. I’ve seen many games where not just the player core but the moderators did not hit those three criteria. These are the same people who would think you can insert the latest plot from Supernatural and no one would notice. They force players to show up or horrible things will happen to their characters. They also refuse to point you in the right direction or even read your character’s profile.

A Good Core makes the flow of action possible and easy. They promote fun and entertainment within your group. They make sure people aren’t singled out. Question is… Who do I have for that?

PROJECT : SENTINEL

That is a very intense title for an otherwise very bland post. This is my new project. I used to have this fantastic hobby where I would play and run tabletop and play-by-post role-playing games. I had friends, time, and fun. Then, cue the color to change from vibrant to pale and gray, things got busy. I fell out of contact with my friends, probably because they had done something so stupid they were unaware of the inanity of it and I simply could not handle them anymore. School ate my time and when you have no friends and no time (and at the time, no money), you have no fun.

Then I entered The Industry. For those unaware, I earn my living as a front-end engineer. And when it occurred to me I could run things online again, since I’m in front of a computer every day at every moment, it was as if I was enlightened!

Then I realized I don’t know how to do backend. Hence, front-end engineer. And my hopes were dashed.

Then I picked up the Dresden Files RPG. Now, I like Dresden Files, but I’m not the biggest fan. But the book was on sale and I’m a sucker. It was also huge. It also fleshed out the first ‘real’ example of the Fate Game System for me. It. Was. Magical. My main gaming problem, besides lack of players, is that my online friends were always story first, action later. Some were open to the idea of turned based action, but that was too few and far between. This seemed to be the first storyline-based system where I didn’t need to track grids and character position and roll probabilities. Granted, they were fun for me, but no one else.

Now the story-based Fate RPG gives me another avenue where I can play action online without worrying about dice-honesty and all of those other piddly details.

So why not kill two birds with one stone? All I needed, as far as I knew, was a website and a blog to host a game. My experiment came into this form: Run a Fate game online using players unfamiliar with the system while building out a game website to shore up my web services skills!

Oh yeah. That doesn’t sound like a train wreck at all…

AND SO BEGINS… PROJECT:SENTINEL.

I am taking auditions for a new name.