Sour Or Salty

My mind hasn’t been in a terribly constructive place lately gamingwise.  The closest to being creative was an idea I had for BattleTech play, and I think it has a lot of problems to implement, if we find enough time to do the scenario.

I’ve been interested in character creation.  This, of course, means thinking about L5R builds as I kind of play way more L5R than anything else.

Actually, that’s something that’s different about my life.  Before I started playing a good amount of RPG home play, I used to cycle through different games.  For a few weeks, I’d be all excited by one thing, let’s say Champions or some other Hero game like Ninja Hero or, even, Fantasy Hero.  Then, I’d move on to Stormbringer.  Remember how much I used to like Immortal.  Followed by BattleTech with maybe a touch of Mechwarrior.  Then, World of Darkness.  Then, Feng Shui.  Then, …   And, so it would go, probably with some breaks to be into a CCG, card game, book series, or whatever.

Besides my personality, the reason for constantly moving from game to game was that I wasn’t actually playing any of them.  I would construct ideas for campaigns, characters, and whatnot, but it was mostly without any sort of payoff beyond the moment.  Convention play of RPGs didn’t do a lot because I wasn’t playing my characters, wasn’t playing in a campaign, and often not playing the same system from game to game or con to con.

I’ve been playing a good amount of L5R for a good number of years, now.  While my mind wanders to other worlds and other systems because it’s not like L5R is the end all and be all of RPGs, I keep coming back to L5R because an idea can easily become something I do and not just something I think about doing.

But, this isn’t just about L5R characters.  It’s partially about L5R characters in that I got to thinking about builds different from what I’ve been playing and felt something was missing.

Then, I read a review of a d20 variant and thought about how much I’ve been turned off from D&D and D&Dish worlds.  They have something missing.

Then, I thought about mechs and the difficulty of capturing what’s so appealing about BattleTech.

The easy commonality is lack of flavor.  D&D has a huge flavor problem, for me.  Mechanics based L5R characters run into the problem that there are only so many different ways to go to stand out mechanically (without being ridiculous).  The appeal of BattleTech is that your mech is your character, then you have the sidekick known as the pilot.  The problem with that is that it’s really easy to fully evolve a mech in one go, rather than a gradual evolution with a RPG character.  It’s also really, really easy to “die”.  I’ve yet to see BattleTech played the way it’s written in the 3025 milieu, where avoiding costly repairs is far more important than actually blasting someone.  “Oh no, my lower arm actuator is critted.  Flee!  Jump for the forests!!  That’s a couple thousand c-bills!!!”

With L5R, I’ve been thinking about fictions and thinking about the 20 questions (the bonus questions are kinda not helpful for many characters).  Going back to a relatively recent post, the resonant feature of RPGs is not what your character is but what your character did.  Not that other people generally give a crap about your characters unless they play with them on a regular basis, but whatever.  I’ve reread some of my HoR fictions, mostly from HoR2, where they did something … make my characters worse.

I thought about ripping on HoR3 as a central idea to a post, but the summary of that thought is:  I enjoy playing, but I don’t feel like I’m part of a campaign, and I don’t feel nearly as invested in my characters as I did in HoR2.  There’s something missing.

Flavor.  I like sweet.  Spicy is usually good.  Not a fan of sour.  Salty, I guess I like.  Hate bitter.  Pro umami.  Not into metallic, at least not anymore.

But, what is flavor in gaming?  Flavor is feeling.  This is where a lot of boardgames, wargames, or whatever don’t do much for me.  I don’t feel anything outside of the moment.  I have to play solitaire much of the time I watch TV because TV is so slow so often, but I often wonder why I’m wasting my time on something that has no lasting impact.  I could be rereading a book, except that makes it hard to follow what’s on, though so little of what I watch matters.

And, that’s kind of the point I’m trying to get to.  I’ve been looking for something to have some lasting impact because I have too much time to think.  At the same time, I want it to be easy.  I want someone else to enthuse me on something.  Ideas are easy.  Executing on them is work.

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3 Responses to Sour Or Salty

  1. Azel says:

    Sounds like you need to at least co-GM, or assist in campaign world building. You should offer your creative services to a few GMs who want a scratch up of some magic items, or a new location & NPCs, or something. That way you can churn creativity, with a guiding framework even, and yet not have to worry about its execution.

    • iclee says:

      I’ve done some of that. Offered to do more. I actually think plotting and setting up scenes are the best thing I offer GMingwise, though maybe not as a lot of my scenes don’t go the way that I intend when I GM.

  2. Azel says:

    Well that’s expected, that scenes don’t go as intended. Otherwise a lot of the wonderful mystery of tabletop RPGs would be lost, that being nigh infinite responses by players and GM to a given premise. Plotting is sorely overused and less valuable to the actual running of a game. Good premises and fleshed personalities (anything from NPCs and items to locations and cultures), however, are desperately needed.

    GMs always need *good reasons* why NPCs have certain agendas, and *why* such lavish scenery used for epic battles. Why are ninjas fighting on Second City rooftops? And why are Yasuki hoarding patchouli incense? Depth of motivation helps spur new optional hooks, often lacking and overlooked in tightly threaded plots.

    Just keep it short and sweet, as in Plug and Play modular ready for GMs. That’d mean cut out Pathfinder Adventure Path melodrama that no one besides the GM will ever read. More factions with agendas and attitudes, so the GM can improv from there on the fly.

    You should totally churn out wacky Rokugani items, too. The two 1e Shadowlands books had oodles of nifty magical items that were like whole campaigns to themselves. Something a bit more toned down, perhaps, but just as flavorful would be a boon.

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