We're Geeks. We Play Games.

I'll put something more exciting here later.

In the meantime, have a beverage and relax. It could be awhile.

What beverage would I suggest?

  • A nice sangria.
  • An old fashioned.
  • A Long Island Iced Tea.

Arisia: Beyond Dice & Hit Points

Due to personal circumstances, my Arisia gaming experience was relegated to two panels: Designing a Memorable PC and Beyond Dice and Hit Points. The first panel had a great group of panelists who were interesting and funny (including one of the contestants from the show, Beauty and the Geek). They shared personal stories of memorable characters and I had an enjoyable time listening, but I can't say that I left with much to chew on or share here.

The second panel was not quite what I expected. I was looking for more sharing of systems which do not use dice and/or hit points, and there was some of that, but they spoke more about the whys of gaming in this manner. Much of it revolved around the ability to play out the story rather than becoming locked into a game of stats, with everyone's noses buried in either their character sheet or their tablets. Removing or limiting dice rolls and/or hit points can force the players to interact more with the game and role play characters rather than simply battle with stats.

I wholeheartedly agree.

They opened up suggestions from the audience and it seemed we had a better grasp as to the scope of games which meet these requirements. Fate and Dread were both mentioned, which came immediately to my mind as well, but were new to the panelists. No matter, the panelists did have several suggestions which were new to me and seem well worth checking into.

One such panelist, Peter Maranci, suggested his concept of Sheetless Roleplaying:

The key concept behind sheetless roleplaying is this: players should not know anything more about their characters than any person knows about themselves. No characteristics, no abilities, no statistics as such; they know of their competencies and abilities, but only in descriptive and comparative terms (for example "As the apprentice of the village blacksmith, I'm stronger than most other men in the village."). The gamemaster handles all the mechanics of the game system, all the number-crunching, leaving the players to focus exclusively on roleplaying. The result is a far more intense roleplaying experience...one that players will remember for a lifetime.

This seems as though it would place a larger burden on the GM, but it is definitely an intriguing idea. Maranci's enthusiasm was contagious and while I'm not sure whether it would be a good fit for my particular gaming group, I am certainly interested.

Another option mentioned is an itty bitty game that appears to have big play value. Vast and Starlit is described as "a nano-game of interstellar crime & rebellion" and "a universe of adventure that fits in your pocket". There's even a sex and warfare supplement. I'm just saying.

The last RPG that caught my interest enough to write it down is Shock. "Social Science Fiction is a fiction game of culture and future shock. Based on the works of Bruce Sterling, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Philip K. Dick, the game pushes the players to make stories that matter to them — stories about politics, philosophy, love, and death."

The core theme when attempting to move "beyond dice and hit points" has little to do with dice and hit points and much to do with telling a good story. The panel and the suggestions given all seemed to revolve around that desire. Tell stories that matter to the players and build experiences that will last a lifetime.

This does not always reflect the desires of the gaming group as a whole. Sometimes you sit down with five to seven other people and everyone is bringing a different expectation to the table. This is where yet another panelist shared yet another helpful tool- the Same Page Tool. This is a checklist of options that you work through together with your group, to be sure everyone is on the same page. 

I game with my very best friends and yet I can tell you that we are not always on the same page when it comes to RPGs (or anything else for that matter). This could save a lot of stress and bickering and may be the best thing that came out of attending this panel. 

While I am bummed to have missed much of what Arisia has to offer for gamers, the two panels I did attend were interesting and informative. Thanks to all the panelists who shared their time and knowledge!