Paul’s In A Funk

Paul’s In A Funk
MUTE MUTE MUTE

In a funk so, hoorah, you get to read about it.

* Mutant: Year Zero has finally failed me by producing a shitty GM screen. Well, let me walk that back a bit. The screen is gorgeous. Ostentatious, even. The best produced GM screen I’ve ever seen, to be honest. It’s also priced like they’re proud as hell of it ($35ish and there’s no supplement, it’s just a screen). Two things. Thing the first, I hate GM screens. Terrible technology, although I can see using it while they’re on a Zone expedition and I’m generating sectors as they go. But mostly, no thank you I do not need or want to have that giant wall between me and the players. (Why did you buy it then, dumbass, I can hear you asking — good question, but I actually have gotten some value from having all the important tables on a separate reference.) Thing the second: they didn’t even include some vital tables. The second photo shows Modiphius fluffed out that ridiculous fourth panel — four panels, who’s heard of such a thing? But the top third is bullshit like “how to run a session” and “how to vote on Ark projects.” For crying out loud. You couldn’t include the mutation table? You know, the table that you have to check every single time someone biohazards a mutation point roll? Terrible.

* It’s been two weeks since we last played MYZ and it’ll be at least two more weeks before we can play again. I tried to run the game at another house — complicated kid/house stuff — and forgot the goddamned zone map. Totally didn’t feel comfortable running without it, so we did boardgames. It was a nice night but the fizz is escaping fast. It’s not just them, it’s also me. Every week that MYZ doesn’t sink its claws back in, I start thinking about The One Ring or Motobushido or hell, a full run of Night Witches or something. 

In the end, novelty nourishes me more than fictional continuity. I have no idea what that says about me. I guess it says I’d better say what I want to say inside 8 sessions because that’s all you’re gonna get.

* When I feel myself sliding into a rpg funk, boardgames are usually there to pick up the slack. The problem is that I really need two nights of gaming: one for rpgs and one for boardgames. Such different exercises, such different needs. They seem to be getting even more different the older I get, too, which is weird.

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0 thoughts on “Paul’s In A Funk”

  1. I used to like a good GM screen for the quick references. Frex, the geopolitical spread on the In Nomine screen.

    I don’t particularly like the wall between people in the games I’m playing these days.

    And yes, I would keep a secret sheet of GM notes/prep/names. That’s different.

  2. I have thoughts about the novelty vs. narrative continuity thing. 

    The only one I’ll drop here is: whatever else it means, at least you recognize it in yourself. A lot of folks, I think, have similar tensions but because they can’t express it, end up bitching at the games / their group instead of realizing it may be (partly) a matter of their own shifting preferences.

  3. Yeah man, it’s saved me a lot of grief over the years.

    My other speculation is that I have no appetite for inhabiting a place. I want a stoooooory and stories always, always come to an end.

    That said,I think it would be interesting to build my skills such that I could maintain momentum and excitement over big stretches. I mean I’ve had no problem following a long book series and that’s about the same.

    But then I think about all the games I’m not learning and tearing apart and inspecting while we, yawn, play yet another episode of That Thing We Did Last Week.

  4. Paul Beakley I’m story driven too. I don’t get a lot of enjoyment out of inhabiting a place. I get some out of inhabiting a character, but not as much. 

    In terms of length, I’ve found that changes over time and tide for me — both in terms of games and other narrative media as well. I used to like long as fantasy series, but right now I don’t enjoy them. I’ve also had periods where all I read was short stories, or where I wanted TV series that were one or two seasons long and no more. 

    Right now I’m in a place where I like single novels, Netflix length TV series that I can binge view in a couple of weeks, and games that go about 8 to 10 sessions. That’ll change, probably, over time.

  5. Jim Crocker I really, really miss 1-3 year long D&D campaigns with lots of player investment. I ran 3 of those back to back in the 00’s. That’s what I’m aiming for with Pillar of Fire, actually.

  6. I can’t tell if I actually miss long campaigns, or if I miss the time in my life where long campaigns were possible, common and expected.

    My speculation is that it’s a nostalgia thing for me and not representative of my current tastes. I’ve occasionally sighed and ruminated out loud about “wouldn’t it be so great to launch The Final Fantasy Campaign and just live there until the end?” It’d be a Burning Wheel game because everyone has the greatest abiding love for it. But Boring Realist Paul knows it wouldn’t last more than 8-10 sessions.

    On that note: Is anyone designing around total exploration in the 8-10 session window? I suspect this is one of the more deeply hidden reasons why the PbtA games succeed as hard as they do, because it seems like you can just about squeeze everything you’d want out of those games in 8-10 sessions. 

    (Then again I know folks play some of those games for-fucking-ever, like Misha B​’s year-long SotI game, so I may be talking out my ass here. But still.)

  7. Even though they rarely explicitly say it, most PbtA games do, in fact, seem geared for it. 

    You can do them shorter (though the fact they get used a lot in con games without focused scenarios is… not optimal in my mind), and you can do them longer easily enough (especially with PC rotation), but that is a sweet spot for AW, Urban Shadows, SotI, and (guessing on this one, haven’t done it yet) Night Witches.

  8. Oh yeah,I don’t know that it’s universal but I’ve met more gamers who are like me than not. In fact I can’t think of anyone I’ve gamed with in the past decade who was actually participating in an open ended life campaign.

  9. I have a friend who’s been running the same “Mutant: Heirs to the Apocalypse” campaign now for 8 years. But he is definitely the exception.

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