Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Tables of Possibilities

 That is the exploration that awaits you! Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.”

Leonard Nimoy

I love randomized tables in roleplaying games. They offer a quick-reference, thematic list to help define some aspect of a setting. A character’s past experiences. Encounters for a particular environment. Things that go wrong when you roll a critical failure. Some keep it simple, others elaborate with extra information or reference to other tables to determine more details about the results. Most provide a die type to roll to randomly determine results, though one might simply glance down the table and pick something appropriate for the moment. I’m definitely of the “roll or choose” camp, leaving things up to fate when I can’t decide, or choosing something that best reflects where the action or characters are going; though I rely on the dice when using table related to character creation. But tables themselves provide only half the necessary material; gamemasters and players bring their own involvement, perspective, and creativity when enabling table results to add richness to their games.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

WEG Memoirs: The X-Files RPG

I was at a loss for this week’s Hobby Games Recce piece (an all-too-frequent occurrence these days). So I found my masking tape and put an “X” in the window, hoping my secret contact could help me out, give me a clue, send me in the right direction. Next morning I found a mysterious envelope at my front door. Inside I discovered the terrible truth about a long-dead conspiracy: notes for a planned X-Files Roleplaying Game....

I’ve had X-Files on my mind recently. I’ve been sucked into watching episodes on Comet – “THE place for Science Fiction programming on television” – in the normal schedule or on one of the channel’s frequent weekend marathons. On a recent visit to my hometown and my favorite independent bookstore (Books on the Common) I also picked up a print copy of Jack Sanders’ Ridgefield Names, which reminded me of the Great Swamp there, of a spooky story I once told someone while driving through the swamp late one night, and of an adventure I wrote and later sold to Pyramid Magazine. I originally designed the piece, “The Great Swamp Beast,” for an X-Files roleplaying game West End Games proposed to Fox in the late 1990s. Alas, like so many efforts, it didn’t go anywhere. But I still have some notes, an outline, character sheet, and other ephemera attesting to the game’s early yet aborted development.