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RPG ideas

Immersion games. To the uninitiated, these are roleplaying games where the players play themselves, as best they can. This may seem boring, because the player doesn't have to put as much work into staying in character, but it actually takes more work. There are lots of essays on how to make immersion games into good adventurous games, this is not going to be one of them.

Instead, this is going to be about using immersion gaming for something. Going back to the Roleplaying Meme and my comments on doing an SG-1 version of Trinity, one of the most compelling reasons for running that game was the way things were structured. Short, episodic. Everything a player needs to know to understand the game setting is essentially contained in one paragraph. This paragraph also works as a boilerplate for posting stories of the game. The games themselves are short, like con games. Six to eight hours of game time for an episode. A long running game is two episodes. Characters mainly carry on but the loss of one or gaining one for a game or two is understandable and something that can work. The characters still gain XP and things from past episodes affect them critically, but these are not allowed to build into the kind of continuity which ruins people's ability to pick-up-and-play. The ultimate series for a pop-RPG.

In what situation would this be a good idea? Well, a lot of groups are college or university students[0], they have time to play long-running games two or three times a week, and have these games span years, building up the level of "crucial required knowledge" to a totally insane level — pre-Morrison X-Men, in comic terms. For a stable group with a long time this is a good thing.

Not all groups are like this. They have to schedule around things like work, rent, classes, and — in the case of tribal gaming groups[1] — time zones. There are plenty of sessions where one player or another cannot make it, or where another player joining for a couple of sessions would be good. For these people, getting a single session of a game like the students are playing scheduled can take a month for a four hour session. The solution is to change the gaming paradigm.

For these people, those of us who are forced by little things like office jobs or working hard on shows or whatever, episodic gaming can be a godsend. It's pick-up-and-play, and also works much better for getting a new player involved, including those new to RPGs in general. Pop-RPGs, an afternoon or an evening invested in a game which is just as good as the long-spanning one, but that doesn't need the equivalent of a planetary alignment to get off the ground.

I was talking about this a while ago with jackslack, but in terms of making pop-RPGs, what settings and systems to use. This is the first time I'd really thought deep about the implications of an episodic gaming paradigm.

I'm getting to my point, I promise.

Tie this in with immersion gaming. You get people. Occasionally a group, sometimes one-on-one. All you need is one GM and one player. The setting is just-about-real. If not, the immersion wouldn't work. Use whatever system you want, hot_pants' Skeletons and Gems will be a good one for online play if your players are flexible.

But a concrete example. A setting, a premise which would allow the general gamer to get involved in the events of an episodic immersion game...

Global Frequency.

Give the players that address if you're playing online. Tell them that they know the premise on the front-page, and they have been called up. They have a Global Frequency jacket or shirt, a badge, and the phone. The game starts with them getting a call.

Where it ends is up to them.

[0]: Fuck off, the two are different. Your country may differ but I couldn't give a toss.
[1]: Potential sociocultural rant later. For now, go read Eastern Standard Tribe. Do not hesitate or I will hurt you. It is that good, and it is free so you can read now and pay if you enjoyed it or want a hardcopy. Then read the rest of this guy's work, because it is some truly fantastic shit.

Comments

( 3 informants — We want information! )
silverfeet
Feb. 20th, 2004 04:41 pm (UTC)
Pop Goes the Weasel
Sue me. I'm in the mood for crazy and insane (not necessarily the same thing) titles.

This does sound like a good idea. I like the thought of a game where people can come and go as necessary[1] without disrupting the overall game.

I've always been leary of playing myself but that doesn't have to be the be-all and end-all of my final decision to try something like this at least once.

[1] necessary by both IC and RL requirements.
figg
Feb. 21st, 2004 01:11 am (UTC)
I never realised golbal frequency was a one off until I got told by the author.

Now my "i'm a fucking bastard" quotient for the week has been filled.

I like episodic gaming. I have a shot attention span, and the way of getting into gaming groups seems to be to start your own or learn the secret handshake.
figg
Feb. 21st, 2004 01:17 am (UTC)
Re:
however, the setting and the rules are quite important.

another fun thing with episodic gaming is stealing an idea from online gaming. 'saving' characters.

but i digress. Ideally, you'd like a system where you can instantly pick up the game, have a small afternoon wasted and enjoy yourself.

The things I hate about progressive gaming is the fun of if someone can't make it often the group cannot progress. Mais J'aime*bzzzt* I like the character development, and the build up of that.

So, if you can emcompass disposable games + developing characters then you will win.

Now, what would happen if a character was not linked to a person?....

( 3 informants — We want information! )

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