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GM-Fu - Resolution Lag, blogs and podcasts

I read a lot of gaming blogs and listen to a number of gaming podcasts - I'm on a constant quest to improve my skills as a GM and my enjoyment as a player.  I get a lot of good ideas from the indie gamers at The Forge; things that I may not agree with, but that make me think and examine my own assumptions.

Today's gem is Resolution Lag from RPG Blog. Wow. This essay completely nails my biggest dissatisfaction with just about every game system I've ever tried. I'm an immersive roleplayer, even as a GM, and it always seems to me that things slow to a crawl when combat (or conflict) begins. It's my primary complaint about DnD 3.5 (and D20) - the d20 "whiff" factor.  I miss you, you miss me, I miss you, attacks of opportunity, a gazillion modifiers to keep in mind... combat takes forever.  I'm bored and ready to move on long before the fight is over. 

I like my games fast and cinematic, and yet am unwilling to decide everything by GM fiat.  There is a place for randomness in my GMing/playing world; I just don't want it to stall the game's momentum.

I have yet to find a system that's frictionless enough for me, though Eden's Cinematic Unisystem comes closest.

Gaming Blogs I read: Gaming Podcasts:
  • After Serenity A couple who are running a Serenity RPG campaign
  • All Games Considered Tabletop gaming; variable quality but I'm still listening.
  • Gamer: The podcasting Mostly about LARP, but still interesting
  • Does My Geek Look Big in This? Beer reviews, gaming and movies - very entertaining, though I tend to skip the beer part. They often discuss the nuts and bolts of their Serenity game.
  • DragonHearth Tracy Hickman - He talks as much about writing as gaming, but it's all good, and I get insights from his gaming 'casts.
  • Geek-Fu Action Grip Mur Lafferty's wonderfully entertaining podcast about the world of geekdom, which of course includes gaming.
  • Have Games Will Travel a weekly, twenty minute podcast hosted by freelance writer and game reviewer Paul Tevis. It features reviews of board, card, and roleplaying games; gaming industry news; and reports from gaming's biggest conventions and trade shows. Enjoy!
  • Pulp Gamer Paper and pen gaming
  • Sons of Kryos Indie focused, excellent interviews and reviews. 
  • Yog Radio Call of Cthulhu gaming - one of my top 5 favorites, even though the podcasts can be long and they do ramble on a bit.  I'm never bored by them.  Ia ia cathulhu!
I'm sure I've forgotten some, both podcasts and blogs.


( 23 comments — Roll the dice )
Aug. 23rd, 2006 04:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, dude, I'm very biased (as they're my buddies) but I absolutely recommend the Godzilla Gaming Podcast:


Mike (US) and Cam (Aus) are two guys in Japan who play and talk about games. They have a lot of back-and-forth discussion on things like War and Realistic Battles in RPGs, themes, techniques, etc. There's some side-babble, but little, and even I came away with some cool ideas and thoughts.

Aug. 23rd, 2006 05:06 pm (UTC)
Bias is okay - I'm taking recommendations. I've got some of their podcasts downloaded but haven't listened to them yet. Hmmm... I wonder how many links I can fit into that sidebar?

Thanks for the suggestion!
Aug. 23rd, 2006 05:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, and I forgot to mention that a few casts back Mike interviewed me about Japanese RPGs. Man, can I babble.

Aug. 29th, 2006 01:09 pm (UTC)
I've listened to the first four Godzilla podcasts, and you're absolutely right. These guys are great! I haven't gotten to your interview yet, but as you can see, I've added them to my link list. Go Gojira boys!
Aug. 23rd, 2006 05:43 pm (UTC)
I think you meant to have the Resolution Lag link point to http://www.rpgblog.org/rpg_blog/2006/08/resolution_lag.html and not http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/ ? :)

Thanks for the blog list, I'll have to at least skim them through.
Aug. 23rd, 2006 05:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks - fixed!
Aug. 23rd, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC)
ever play tunnels and trolls? it's been a LONG while since i did but i seem to remember its combat system was very granular and fast-paced. granted, it was a pretty immature system that wasn't very geared towards role-playing. i wonder if i still have the rule books somewhere....and if i am remembering it correctly! ;)
Aug. 29th, 2006 01:10 pm (UTC)
Are you really old enough to remember that? (grin)

I think I played it once, long ago, but it may have been Burrows and Bunnies. I'll see if I can find a copy to look over.
Aug. 30th, 2006 04:15 pm (UTC)
actually! yes! i started gaming in middle school sometime. i don't remember exactly when but would guess it would have been 1980 or 1981? something like that. me and a friend used to try different stuff and we played a little t&t for a while. it was fun but didn't really encourage role-playing which became more interesting to me later in junior high and particularly in high school.
Aug. 24th, 2006 12:41 am (UTC)
Thanks for including the Sons of Kryos among your podcast links.
Aug. 24th, 2006 02:02 am (UTC)
Re: Thanks
You guys totally rock. You're on my short list of podcasts that I always make time for. Thanks for reading my silly little blog.
Aug. 24th, 2006 12:49 am (UTC)
Out of curiosity, how many players do you prefer to game with?
Aug. 24th, 2006 02:15 am (UTC)
Five is my perfect number - five players and me GMing. My current home champaign of Chill has six players, but usually it's only five. I used to run seven routinely, but realized that at that point people were slipping through the cracks in terms of spotlight time.

At a con game I still like 5-6, whether I'm playing or running. When you have a limited amount of time you don't want too many people or time is too short for everyone to get sufficient face time.

I have run the home campaign for as few as two of my players, which works well for intensely personal horror. On the other hand, my weekly D&D GM won't run if there aren't at least 4 of the six of the players.
Aug. 25th, 2006 02:33 am (UTC)
Cool! Someone is playing Chill 20 years later? I admire that. It was a great game conceptually.

I find that more roleplaying happens with fewer players. I prefer roleplaying to four combats a night, but that's not always the case with my players. Then again, there are times you just want to kill things.
Aug. 25th, 2006 01:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, I loves my my Chill. I like the way I can simulate almost anything you see in a horror movie, and the way it evokes the "horror with hope" trope of the horror movies of the sixties and seventies.

I run a pretty cerebral game - we'll have several investigation / interaction / infodump sessions and then a big conflict that's the conclusion of their investigations. Characters have entered and ended relationships, married, had kids, died... part of the tension is trying to balance the demands of the mundane world with the responsibility of protecting it from ghoulies, ghosties, long leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night.

I think five is an ideal number for me because it's enough people to keep interactions flowing if I'm having a slow night, and because it's not an *even* number, there's less likelihood of an even division of characters splitting up. I generally have an NPC or two with the party as well, to serve as cannon fodder, attachment objects (because it hurts sooo much more when they die if you like them) and a way to offer opposing points of view. The GMPCs *never* outshine the party, however. Firm rule for me.

But I ramble...
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:33 pm (UTC)
Rambling is fine. Sounds like a really good group actually!
Aug. 26th, 2006 03:25 am (UTC)
Oh, gods, they're fabulous. They are simply the best group I've ever had. For my part, I've been learning from the Indie folks and surrendering more and more control of my game to the players. It was hard to do - I've always had control issues - but it's been worth it. They have ownership of the story as much as I do, and I have more fun because I'm "playing" too.
Aug. 24th, 2006 03:01 am (UTC)
I heartly recommend FATE, but I am certain you are already familiar with it. The rules have evolved considerably, in the past several months, so the downloadable Version 2.0 is not quite up to speed with current developments. I can hardly wait for their first professional publication, the pulps-era Spirit of the Century.
Aug. 24th, 2006 01:41 pm (UTC)
I'm aware of Fate, and read the mailing list with varying degrees of bemusement. One of these days I'll make the time to sit down and really learn it. Probably when Dresden Files comes out...
Aug. 24th, 2006 04:04 pm (UTC)
FATE reminds me Theatrix a great deal, in that both have players spend game currency (Fate Points and Plot Points, respectively) to invoke some particular character detail (Aspects and Descriptors) to change the story in a meaningful way. I think FATE handles the renewal of currency better, as the subplot rules in Theatrix are more than a tad vague and rather less immediate and visceral than a FATE compel. Add to this the novel notion of being able to assign temporary details to a character (Gash on Right Thigh, Bad Case of the Flu, Depressed About Being Dumped, etc.) to reflect the consequences of events in-game, and FATE really shines. I can see where FATE, especially a diceless hybrid variant I have in mind, will become my "go-to" game system in the future much as Basic Role Playing was in the past.
Feb. 8th, 2007 10:36 pm (UTC)
Check out the happenings on Fates mailing list
There is a nice bit of Diceless Fate being hashed over on the Fate mailing list right now..
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 25th, 2006 01:15 pm (UTC)
I'd be really interested in seeing that magic system if it's shareable. I ended up just banning magic for PCs in my campaign because it was just too disruptive. I'd rather have magic available, though, I really would.
Aug. 28th, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC)
From my friend Reimer, here's the link to Jim Kim's Buffy Magic rules:
( 23 comments — Roll the dice )

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