Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Turn Up the Positive Feedback

 I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

Mark Twain

Everyone loves positive feedback. It validates us, says someone out there appreciates us, even if only in some very small, almost-anonymous way in the seemingly infinite cacophony of the internet. The Internet Age has conditioned us to crave it and has made a business of our need for positive reinforcement. Likes. Shares. Comments. Views. Texting. Instant Messaging. Reviews. Emojis. Humans have an urge to share things they like among their friends, a hobby community, even complete strangers. We find positive comments about these things not only uplift us but help connect us to like-minded people, give us a feeling we belong to a community. Positive feedback encourages us to interact and share more. Creative people often find positive feedback helps fuel their work, or at least their enthusiasm for it. Unfortunately in this Internet Age the negative feedback we get can easily overwhelm the positive...and can send us into unproductive downward spirals. It seems more people would rather kick down our sandcastle than help build it. It’s easier to destroy; creation requires a lot of time and effort, plus a good deal of the creator’s spirit (a natural vulnerability). Some folks find some twisted satisfaction in online destruction...trolls who, for whatever reason, seek to speak poorly of others, degrade their accomplishments, twist their words, pick a fight, and otherwise remind us of humanity’s darker side. We need to be more positive, build up those who need uplifting, praise the good things that have affected our lives, and offer thanks to those who improve our lives, even in small ways.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Rumors in the GM Toolkit

Half a truth is often a great lie.”

Benjamin Franklin

Would you trust any rumors about
this crazy hermit?
One of the first elements of Basic Dungeons & Dragons that impressed me came in module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. Here, in the supposed base for characters exploring the Caves of Chaos, one could talk to the keep denizens and get information to inspire or aid their adventures...and some of that information was accurate, and some was patently false. I’m developing a new, system-neutral fantasy roleplaying game setting (mostly because, after The Greydeep Marches, I’m a glutton for punishment) and, as I work out key personalities, factions, and locations, I’m tempted to offer a vast menu of rumors to goad characters into exploring different aspects of the region. And I don’t really feel obliged to note which rumors are true and which are false.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

WEG Memoirs: Heroes & Rogues

 A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

Christopher Reeve

For many Star Wars fans – especially the recent ones – West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game is all but unknown. Almost 25 years after its bankruptcy and two or three additional versions of a Star Wars roleplaying game later, most folks focus more on the latest Star Wars media, with roleplaying games taking a back seat to the latest movies and streaming series. But there was a time when West End’s game helped reignite interest in Star Wars, expanding the universe with a flood of continuity (some might say an unmanageable flood) and new ways to look at that galaxy far, far away beyond what we saw in the original trilogy. Much of that was cast aside after Disney acquired Lucasfilm – an understandable move given the daunting amount and variable quality of in-universe information to track – but some of us watch the recent Disney+ streaming series and crack a slight, pained smile when we recognize something West End created that managed to endure this long. West End didn’t simply amass vast piles of information to create a galaxy of continuity and verisimilitude; it expanded our sense of what was possible within the setting, the different characters we might find and the different stories they might tell. While the first edition core roleplaying game began this trend upon its release in 1987, subsequent publications pushed us to explore different corners of the galaxy. Heroes & Rogues was among the best of those products.