Tag Archives: ryan macklin

Ryan Macklin on GMs Listening and Celebrating

A very good post on RPG GMs applying some improv comedy skills to listen to the players and also to celebrate their achievements.  Excellent stuff that all GM should use.


(see, I can actually post things that aren’t Kickstarter!) 😉

Backstory Cards, now live on Kickstarter!

These are pretty cool.  They’re used mainly when starting a campaign with new characters and are intended for the players sitting around the table to draw cards and, through narrative, create backstories that link the characters closer together as a group.  For example, someone might draw “You and PC worked to undermine or directly combat one of GROUP’S machinations.  What did that conflict cost you?  What did it cost GROUP?”

So we know that you and another player character worked together in the past, in this case the card (as seen on the Kickstarter project page) has an arrow pointing to the right, so it’s the person on your right that you fought GROUP with.  The arrow might also point above, indicating the person opposite you.  So it might not be the person that you’d like to do something with, and it might not be the character with the skill set that you want, but that’s what you need to work with.  As you create an impromptu story with the other PC, you’ve deepened both character’s backgrounds, added some lore to the game, and possibly added a skill to your character.  You’ve also deepened the story of GROUP, which might just be the group that you’re working with…

The cards work with ANY role-playing game because you’re just making background stories.  I first learned of this from Ryan Macklin’s blog (http://ryanmacklin.com/) who provided me with an early beta of the cards.  I immediately fell in love with them, unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to get a group together and test them out.  The concept really appeals to me, I think any RPG is improved by having the characters more interconnected than ‘You meet in a tavern.’

The Kickstarter was created by Tim Rodriguez of Brooklyn Indie Games (http://brooklynindiegames.com/) and Ryan Macklin, it’s already reached its goal of $5,000 and will be open until Friday, July 18.  $15 will get you a printed set of the cards, lesser amounts will get you the PDF for print and play.  You can also download the beta if you’re a contributor.


Kickstarter page

Reverb Gamers Master List #9 through #12

Because these are mostly short answers, I’m doing four today which catches me up if I’d started doing these on January 1 and were doing one a day.


REVERB GAMERS 2012, #9: Have you ever played a character of the opposite sex. Why or why not? If yes, how did the other players react?

Already demonstrated, two of the four favorite characters that I described are female. Playing opposite gender has never been an issue in the groups that I’ve played in, I’ve never had a problem playing female characters. My wife has played male characters. Three stories. First, a friend of mine said he’d always play female characters in computer games because if he has to watch someone’s butt always running in front of him, at least it should be a cute one. And I can agree with that.  Second, my wife once had a professor who said ‘Why should you think a science fiction writer can write believable aliens if they can’t write believable women?’ And finally, John Scalzi re-wrote the third Old Man’s War book, The Last Colony, to be seen from the main character’s adopted daughter’s POV. The resulting book, Zoe’s Tale, was written by giving his wife every chapter when he finished it and re-writing it until she was satisfied that it was from a woman’s perspective.

And let’s face it: if you’re a GM, sooner or later you’re going to be running opposite gender NPCs and opposition, so what’s the difference between that and running an opposite gender player characters?


REVERB GAMERS 2012, #10: Have you ever played a character originally from a book/TV/movie? How did the character change from the original as you played? If not, who would you most like to play?

Already mentioned: Buckaroo Banzai. I loved the movie, I actually saw it in a theater during its original run, which was far too short. There was no way you could design an accurate representation of Buckaroo Banzai in Champions, it would be like trying to run Doc Savage or Dr. Who, so I took the shortcut of saying he’d been exposed to a neurotoxin and suffered brain damage, he was slowly recovering his skills via XP earned. People had a lot of fun playing off the Banzai mythos, we were all fans of the movie.


REVERB GAMERS 2012, #11: Have you ever played a character that was morally gray, or actually evil? Why or why not? If yes, did you enjoy it?

Not really, I’ve always tended to play straight-up heroes as my personal player-characters. As Ryan Macklin pointed out on his blog in reply to this prompt, anyone who has GM’d a game has run gray or evil characters as NPCs.

I had one Champions hero named Damian Styx. He was a mage. He was a normal guy before he woke up one day and reality had been re-written and he was no longer who he had been, he was now an apparent incarnation of evil. He was a really good guy and did good things, but he had this unshakeable aura of pure evil. He was lots of fun to play, especially since one of the other players was a vampire hunter who really wanted to kill me. And I did run him once as a supervillain in an Origins game session many years ago.


REVERB GAMERS 2012, #12: Do prefer collaborative or competitive games? What do you think that says about you?

I prefer collaborative to competitive, but they both have their place. For the most part, role-playing games are collaborative by nature, and I like that. The obvious exception is a convention tournament RPG in which case people should be trying to steal the spotlight to win, but that’s not the norm for me. Board games tend to be competitive, with few exceptions like Pandemic. That’s one thing that I’d like to do, design a board game that’s both cooperative and competitive, we’ll see if I can pull it off.

What is says about me?  I’d rather have a fun experience than win.

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