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Hey PTGPTB People,
I was reading through the e-mail feedback and noticed the mention of Worlds of Wonder as a pre-Rifts boxed set which tied multiple games together. You asked to be enlightened and as I actually own a copy I thought I would oblige :)
Worlds of Wonder was a Chaosium boxed set containing 4 books (Basic Roleplaying, Magic World, Superworld, Future-World). It was very much an introductory set for beginning players. Basically the games used a bare-bones version of the Chaosium system and allowed for creation of a generic character in the 'Basic Roleplaying' book which could then be converted to each of the other settings by the rules in the other 3 books.
The premise was something along the lines of there being a city called
"Wonder" where 3 portals linked our own world to the not very
imaginatively named genre worlds of the game. Based on the Chaosium 'Spring 82' catalogue which came with the boxed set, it was an early-mid 1982 release with credits to the usual Chaosium people: Perrin, Stafford etc.
Thanks for clearing that up!
Apart from playing for fun, I play RPGs basically in order to learn more about myself and how I would react in a different place, in a different situation, even as a different person. It's not all deep psychology - some games will always be just for fun, but some of the games I have played have dealt with some pretty mature stuff. One that stands out in particular is Travis Hall's "A Soldier's Choice", which was run as BrisCon two years ago. (The final episode in the series, A Hero's Heart, was run at Maelstrom this year).
Playing this game was one of the most intense gaming experiences I've had, and I still remember the shocking conclusion. Travis had managed to capture the gritty `between a rock and a hard place' moral choice type scenarios that sets Babylon 5 apart as a TV show. Playing this adventure was that much more intense than watching the show - which is how good gaming should be - a lot more involving and striking closer to home than TV or film.
This particular adventure starts fairly conventionally and there's plenty of action with a few bizarre clues along the way to keep you thinking. And then suddenly the whole thing turns on its head. The bad guys we were chasing turn out to be good guys - or at least we have to take the chance and believe that they are good guys. And in the end they all die.
I won't reveal all the details, but I doubt that any TV show, film or play could have conveyed to me to full depth of the consequences of war as this game did. By my own choice, I wiped out the population of an entire planet, for what I saw to be the greater good. I left the convention that day with a heavy heart. I knew that the game itself was all make believe, and yet dealing so closely with those issues is not just "entertainment".
I didn't walk away going - "Oh yeah - what about the bit where I blew the cyborg's arm off, and then he still came at me, but then you pulled out that grenade and..... " (I've played games like that, and they were fun). This was a game which dealt with difficult moral choices, with the subject of death and war, in a serious and mature way.
As a testament ot the power of this session, the opening of the sequel to this game, played the following year with a completely different group, produced some similarly powerful stuff, and I think it drew out the best of our roleplaying ability. I got to play the same character I had in the previous game, as did a number of other players (unusual in a convention setting). I imagined how he had been changed by the experience of the previous adventure. My memories of last year's game were quite vivid , and there was a palpable unease in the room as each of our characters confronted each other for the first time since that dreadful day.
The reason why I like the Babylon Project, and Cyberpunk, is that these games deal with ordinary humans in extraordinary circumstances - there aren't many superheroes. (CP2020 can be the obvious exception, but by and large the games my group plays pitches average, typically underequipped characters against similar but slightly more powerful opponents, rather than playing the fully cybernetically enhanced muchkin fest that CP2020 can often be.)
Andrew's suggestions of giving the players time to reflect on their actions before taking them on to the next scenario is an excellent one. "A Soldier's Choice" would not have been the same if it had ended with "you killed everything on the planet, but at least you stopped the Shadows - well done!" Travis' detailed description of the post holocaust scene was chilling - you had no choice but to recognise the consequences of your actions!
Mature gaming is possible in almost any genre, I'm sure (although it could be difficult in Paranoia :-) - Sometimes there are some cliches to overcome, and not only from the GM's part. It is not always easy to be witty in your in-character dialogue, or to give the perfect live performance of a death scene :-) But thinking about the issues and the situation, and doing your best to feel and think the way your character actually would (rather than thinking about what you, as a player, want to see happen in the game) I think will always help in making the game a more enjoyable and satisfying experience. This in itself is not a new piece of advice - I'm sure we've all heard it before. But for those sessions where we want to do more than just "blow a few orcs away" it is worth putting more into the game and expecting to learn more about what it would really be like to do the things you are collectively imagining.
After all, the world as we know it is largely the way it is because we
humans have collectively imagined the way we might make it, and have
then gone on to either make it so, or sit back and watch others make it
so. RPGs can deal with some very relevant issues (such as the
consequences of war, the meaning of loyalty, humanity's relationship to
technology). Roleplayers, I believe can be amongst those who are better
prepared to be the ones actively imagining and making the world of the
future, and surely this is a sign of maturity.
So, if anyone wants to send us their comments, or has suggestions on other
ways to find out where people are and what they want...
email us at SHengeAus@aol.com
Gaming stores always need support and advice, so even if you don't live in Sydney, do please mail these guys and let them know how you feel stores should be run. And if you are in Sydney, get yourselves out to Stonehenge once it opens. Support your local store!
However, having to pay phone calls to read the magazine is a bit of a drag so I don't suppose that you could place a zip file of each issue of the title page for that issue so that people like myself can download it and a) save on the phone bill and b) store it on a disk for future reference. I'd do it myself but I tried tonight and Internet Explorer makes a right old hash of it - there is no clear way as far as I can see to grab the pages myself.
Regarding the letter that you received about the Places To Go, People To Be logo I agree that the logo looks too much like an advert - in fact this is what I thought it was until I looked more closely at it! I think that something a bit simpler would work better, maybe not necessarily in colour... a simple black/white image could well suffice and fit in better with the site's aesthetics.
Anyway, hope these points help to make a great mag even better!
We hear people's comments about the banner, and we are looking into it. But till we have an alternative, we will continue to run with our current title. As for zip files, these are included on the Issue Index page, but have fallen behind a little in being updated (we're working on it!). Otherwise, I recommend just cutting and pasting the text into a word file, or saving the html code and reading off line. We know this isn't easy, but until we get our pdf version working, it's the best we can offer.
I do however feel that 'bashing orcs' is one area where roleplaying is loosing out massively to computer first person shoot-em-ups and online shared world adventure games. These games tend to be very artificial and one-dimensional in terms of plotting and player goals, but they excel at providing us with endless cinematic battles and comic book morality. On this playing field I think roleplaying games will inevitably lose out. On the other hand such games are notoriously bad at providing moral depth and exploring mature themes.
It's the extra depth and maturity that our hobby can provide which I
hope will give it resilience, in the face of stiff competition for the
attention of upcoming generations of gamers.
The Forum is your page; it is entirely up to you what you fill it with, or even if you fill it at all. So get on your soapbox and send your spiel to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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