That definite hankering which came upon me earlier this year gnaws away at me ever more insistently, and yet we didn't get any roleplaying going. Why? Short form: there wasn't enough interest around the table for me to want to change tack with a successful boardgaming group. Long form: well, therein lies the rub.
Readers with more than passing roleplaying experience will be well aware that clashing playstyles and other social dynamics are core issues which can confound a roleplaying group. They are also very personal issues since they arise from the relationships between friends. Tempting as it was therefore to sound off a GM's frustrations here @RD/KA!, I could never escape the realisation that any such roleplayer's bitching in which I felt like indulging should be kept strictly face-to-face. It's only fair after all.
So I was left with the problem of finding a positive way to address the issue of the lessons needful from our previous roleplaying bash. This has proved more than just difficult; it has been quite simply the single most difficult task RD/KA! has set me since I started writing back in 2005. I'm still working on it.
Of course the roleplaying front wasn't all bad in 2009. I enjoyed a fine session in Eberron back in June with the setting's designer Keith Baker when he dropped in on yours truly as part of the first leg of his 'Have Dice, Will Travel' 2009 world tour.
Though a short one-off Keith's guest-GM session was a reminder of everything I like best about roleplaying:
- Vivid and unique settings turning genre conventions on their ear.
- Characters: open to game-changing free expression of a sort essentially irrelevant in boardgames' contested structures.
- Stories: not just asides which interpret the gameplay but the whole point of the exercise.
"You did what, exactly?"
When our roleplaying does begin in 2010 it'll be with Donald's Outlaws campaign. At the time of writing it looks like this is just going to be a 3-hander- Donald, Tony and I; which is fine by me because the sessions the three of us played were the highlights of Donald's Flashing Blades mini-campaign back in 2005 (cf. 'The Adventures of Felix Mephisto, Gentleman'.)
I'm enjoying this even before it's begun too, because it's given me motiviation sufficient finally to get to work on a long-delayed project: updating my HERO4 player and GM support materials to the standards of the current edition; a project which didn't even get off the ground with HERO5. Expect to hear more soon.
And for my next trick?
With Donald's Outlaws campaign keeping my hand in with HERO6, you'd expect WFRP3 to top my own list of games to GM in 2010. And it does, naturally enough. But it shares that slot with a golden oldie: Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes. Originally published in 1983 by Flying Buffalo, MSPE is a great game of modern-era pulp adventure using the Tunnels and Trolls system.
We had shedloads of fun playing MSPE back in the early 80's. The game also holds a special place in my affections because it was the RPG with which I finally managed to put together a successful plot-driven scenario for a group that included 2 GMs of godlike prowess. The secret of my success was simple: I just ripped off a Hammer Horror movie, added a few twists, and Bob was our uncle. I was delighted, as you can imagine dear readers. Pity about the sequel though...
I've often thought about revisiting that scenario, especially when I was thinking about quick and dirty one-offs I could run for the Sunday group. I recently realised that simply seeking to repeat past glories was pointless; so instead of rerunning the old scenario, I'm going to run a new one in the same style. More in due course.