Saturday, February 23, 2008

I played a game!

I played Star Wars (D6 -- there can be only one) tonight, with about a bazillion people.


10:00 PM - everybody's shown up by now.
10:30 PM - by now everyone has characters done (most of us had made them a week before)
11:45 PM - people are done socializing and being the dorks we are and the game actually begins. Scene is set. Background is given. Mission is set out. We decide how to tackle it.
12:30 or so AM - First encounter: bunch of stormtroopers show up and we start a combat. (Well, technically I started the combat, by refusing to actually hide as opposed to taking cover but keeping my gun out and aimed at them as they came down the stairs...)
2:00 AM -- combat ends with an AT-ST coming in as backup and dropping gas canisters into the area, after we beat the stuffing out of the stormtroopers, so we run away. Out of game time; skill points are handed out.

I played as maximally combat-monstered a character as I could -- a bounty hunter, with maximal blaster skill for a starting character (6D). But I never actually hit anybody in combat, at all.

Once it was because of a really bad roll, but after that it was mostly just that I went after all the stormtroopers in initiative order (which doesn't change from round to round), and I kept getting stunned-for-the-rest-of-the-round every combat round before I got a chance to act. (Once by a grenade thrown by a fellow player that he didn't throw far enough, the rest of the time by the stormtroopers.)

Sometimes when you're doing the indie game thing you get all nostalgic for traditional games, but stuff like that is a little reminder of why people decided to try to reach out in different directions.

For all that, I had a lot of fun just being with the guys and playing. I'm really glad I did it, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Being in a room with a bunch of people you like, rolling dice and imagining things is fun, even if your character can't actually do the things he's supposed to be really good at, and you accomplish very little throughout the course of the evening...

But traditional RPGs definitely have their downsides.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Unmasking the "Christian Wright"?

Christian Wright's Games Review Weblog, to which the redoubtable Paul Czege pointed me, is a remarkable site. It would seem to be a series of reviews of games written by an American Fundamentalist Christian gamer, on a quest to warn the world against immoral, corrupt games, and champion morally upright games.

There are some mighty strange things about this blog though...

First, there is the odd coincidence that while the author betrays no particular familiarity with the indie games scene, two of the six games he reviews are indie favorites.

Second, there is a rather improbable story about how he got roped into playing My Life With Master (only to quit partway through, full of righteous indignation). And the review of My LIfe With Master taken as a whole conveys a very complete picture of the scope, rules, and purpose of the game, despite the fact that Mr. Wright's personal views on it are completely off the mark. By reading the story of Mr. Wright's encounter with the other players you actually get a complete review of the game, almost as if through the literary device of the unreliable narrator.

Third, there seems to be a strange obsession with English culture:

[RE: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay] It seems also to be a trait of English roleplaying games to present the world in as dark and horrible way as possible. It seems to me to be a common theme in English games that even good must be painted in dark shades...

[RE: SLA Industries] It is quite obviously English in origin, having the stamp of anti-Americanism that seems to be considered ‘cool’ on the other side of the ocean.
So we have a narrator who is an American Fundamentalist gamer who keeps commenting with distaste on English taste. I don't know about you, but I don't know of any American Fundamentalists who think of England as especially decadent. Or who think of England much at all.

Fourthly, despite his being an American gamer who is disgusted with all things English, he uses quotation marks like the English do -- single quotes, not double -- and he uses English spellings and words like "behaviour," "colour," "realise" and even "whilst."

Finally, and most importantly, his writing contains some moments of comedy gold which could never be unintentional -- with regards to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay --

In terms of the characters you can play, there are many positive choices in the game: demon slayer, friar (a mendicant monk who dedicates his life to God), knight, priest and witch hunter to name the more obvious ones. Then there are career choices which are either morally suspect or simply repugnant: Wizard, outlaw, thief, assassin, grave robber and scientific scholar.
Oh yes, positive choices such as demon slayer, friar, knight, priest and.... witch hunter! (rimshot ) or morally suspect and repugnant people like wizards, outlaws, thieves, assassins, grave robbers and.... scientific scholars! (rimshot)

Once the parody becomes obvious it gets kind of fun. The narrator loves Dogs in the Vineyard but doesn't at all understand the moral ambiguity involved; he loves Hunter the Reckoning without realizing that the hunters are supposed to be creepy. He disapproves of SLA industries, while directing you pruriently to the naughty pictures on page 171. He explains the "scenes of reaching out in love to the villagers" rules in My Life With Master, while explaining that he never asked for one himself because it offended against his sense of the proper role of the GM. And he suggests you avoid directly exposing yourself to the works of the 'writer' (note Brit single quotes) H P Lovecraft (note Brit tendency not to put periods -- er, full stops -- after the initials) -- as if Lovecraft's own works were a Necronomicon of sorts.

And of course his name is Christian Wright.

So we've deduced that the author is a Brit, probably English, indie games nerd who also enjoys horror like Call of Cthulhu and SLA Industries.

The game's afoot! Suggestions, insinuations, or confessions as to who is behind the mask of Christian Wright are encouraged in comments. Dissemination of this challenge to more widely-read gamer blogs is even more encouraged.