Ronin Round Table: Freebooter Update and Gen Con Plans!

By Donna Prior

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the Freebooter program. With Gen Con fast approaching (too fast), I figured I’d throw you an update! One of my favorite aspects of the Freebooter program is that it’s so accessible to the casual volunteer, but there are plenty of upcoming rewards for the more hard core. We’ve had many event demos at game stores and conventions both. We’ve had demo sessions run on the east coast and all the way down under for PAX Australia. While most of our Freebooters are from the USA, we have a few spread out in other countries such as England, Canada, and Spain. And of course, the aforementioned Australia.

Dragon Age RPG: Arl's Ransom at PAX Australia

Anestis ran the first ever Green Ronin Freebooter Demo at PAX Australia!

The Freebooter membership shows an equal balance of experienced and newbie Game Masters, with a variety of different demo styles. It’s been quite exciting to read the reports! Of course, they’re not all 100% positive. There can be many challenges to face as a volunteer, especially when LGS owners & convention runners aren’t familiar with your company or products. Luckily, we’ve got some pretty friendly volunteers and it’s a pleasure to work with them.

Gen Con will be the first time I’ll be meeting many Green Ronin fans and Freebooters. We have a good amount of games on the schedule, which all filled up pretty fast. Alas, we couldn’t have as many games as we’d like, especially for the huge amount of requests for some Song of Ice & Fire! Some of the games are being run by fans we know; some are people who didn’t go through us at all! If you find yourself at a table, you’ll know an official Freebooter as they’ll be wearing THIS spiffy shirt!

freebooter_shirt.jpg

If you’re sitting at a table with a Green Ronin game, mention our program! We’ve been working to get the word out, but every little bit helps. The more volunteers we have, the bigger we can be for next year’s Gen Con.

We’re very thankful for all the folks who signed up to run games this year. Thanks to James & Aaron from Vigilance Press, Mark & Tim from Evil Fleet Productions, Neall Price, Steven Jones, Jamie Wood, Ken Hammerle, James Baize, Glenn Loos-Austin, Kerry Connell, and Mark Bannon for getting Green Ronin games on the schedule!

Even if you didn’t manage to get into a game, please drop by and see us at Booth #1703, right inside the exhibit hall doors! We’d also love your support at the ENnies!

Can’t make it to Gen Con? You can watch the award show live!

Have a safe and wonderful Gen Con!

Ronin Round Table: The Silverado Effect

Tailoring Adventures to Player Characters

by Jack Norris

Adventure design is a funny thing. Published adventures need to appeal to the widest possible group of PCs. Whether the PCs are bandits, knights, businessmen, or criminals an adventure included in a publication needs to do the best job they can to motivate and include those characters in the action. This is why published adventures based around classic plots like the Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven are a good model; anyone who needs money, is a halfway decent person, or has some useful skills can be hired to defend a village from bandits or monsters.

Designing adventures for a particular group is a different beast. You can tailor an adventure to the PCs you actually have, not those you might have. This allows GMs to populate the adventure and the setting with plots, characters, and twists that speak directly to the PCs, their motivations, and skills. I call this the Silverado Effect, from the Lawrence Kasdan western film of the same name.

In Silverado, four "PCs" find themselves on the wrong side of some bad people. One of them used to ride with the main bad guy, now a corrupt sheriff and boss of the town of Silverado. Now he seeks some peace but still ends up coming against his old "friends." Two other characters, brothers, find themselves the target of the evil sheriff’s business partner, the son of a robber baron the eldest son killed to save his kid brother. They come into town to see their sister, and end up getting revenge when the bad guys take a run at their family. The final character arrives in town to find his father beset by the sheriff and robber baron who want their land and that his sister has abandoned the homestead to work as a saloon girl. Throughout the film these four characters alternate between friendship and suspicion until they finally come together to take on the bad guys and clean up the town.

It’s a great film and a classic of the modern western, but perhaps more importantly for the topic at hand it’s a story that only works with those characters. You can’t throw in a different main character without changing the whole dynamic. That’s because every bad guy, sympathetic character, and event is designed to motivate those characters in ways that wouldn’t work on someone else the same.

Have a PC whose parents were killed by bandits? Put in a bandit chief antagonist. Another PC loves kids? Add a needy waif who will meet a bad end without their help. Another is a politician and schemer? Then maybe the bandit chief is working with a corrupt lord or worse, maybe the lord hires the chief and his men as his personal magistrates to help him execute a complex scheme. By making these adjustments, you can even tailor a published adventure to your group and make it a very personal affair for the PCs.

This is the great advantage of designing adventures directly for your gaming table and while it can be some work, it can lead to truly fantastic games. It might not always be easy, but it is often worth it.

Ronin Round Table: Nobody’s Perfect…

… and that most certainly includes those of us working in publishing. "Mistakes happne," as they say. To err is human, etc., etc. As much as we try to put out flawless products free of the stain of human fallibility… well, we’re human.

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Ronin Round Table: Mecha vs. Kaiju

by Chris Pramas

mecha-vs-kaiju-200.jpgLast night I went to a midnight show of Pacific Rim with Ronins Nicole Lindroos, Marc Schmalz, and Intern Kate, along with Stan! of Super Genius Games and our pal Vinny. If you grew up on Godzilla and Gundam, you’re going to love this movie. We all had a blast and as gamers, our thoughts naturally turned to the age old question: how do you game that?

We just published a new Gadget Guide PDF this week called Mecha. If you are a Mutants & Masterminds fan, it’s a great place to start. There’s another way to game Pacific Rim farther back in our history though! In 2005 we ran a setting search for our True20 Adventure Roleplaying game. Other companies pitched us settings and the best four were included in the hardback core rulebook. Jonathan Wright and his company Big Finger Games pitched us a setting called Mecha vs. Kaiju. I remember opening up the pitch package and reading the title to Nicole. I said, "I think we have a contender!" because I immediately loved the concept. It was well executed too, so when we picked the four winners, Mecha vs. Kaiju was on the list. It was published in the 2006 edition of True20 Adventure Roleplaying.

When we were talking after the movie, Nicole suggested that we remind people about Mecha vs. Kaiju. Surely we weren’t the only ones who were going to think about gaming Pacific Rim or something like it in the wake of the movie. So we’ve decided to put the PDF of the 2006 edition of True20 on sale again for only $5. It also includes the settings Caliphate Nights by Paradigm Concepts, Lux Aeternum by BlackWyrm Games, and Borrowed Time by Golden Elm Media.

You should note that we later did a Revised Edition of the True20 core rulebook that replaced the setting search winners with the contents of the True20 Companion. It’s the original 2006 edition we’re putting on sale though.

If you already have True20 and you want some sweet giant robot vs. giant monster action, Big Finger Games later expanded out Mecha vs. Kaiju to a full sized book. You can find that here.

I think the reason Mecha vs. Kaiju grabbed me right away goes back to my childhood. When I was a kid, we had a black and white TV and cable was years away. One of the UHF channels in the Boston area was Channel 56 and they ran something called the Creature Double Feature each week. I saw a lot of Japanese monster movies despite the shitty reception we got. They ran kung fu movies too, so my later love of Hong Kong action cinema has roots there as well. In the early 80s, we first started seeing anime on American TV. I used to watch a show called Force Five, which was actually five different Japanese shows under one banner. Several of those featured giant robots and I was in. No surprise I ended up playing a lot of BattleTech in college.

So strap into your mecha, pick M&M or True20, and defend the Earth from giant monsters! Green Ronin super robot power…gooooooo!

Ronin Round Table: Cross-Pollination in Game Design, or, the Myth of the Designer Knife Fight

Last time I mentioned cross-pollination is game design, or taking ideas from other gaming systems and experiences and using it in other games. This is a common practice and one that I sometimes feel not everyone realizes or expects. Check out some of the more tribalized corners of the internet and there’s this idea that designers and consumers of various games and companies are in some sort of weird secret war. The great Toon-Cyberpunk Massacre of 1994 aside, this isn’t true. I can say with confidence that I don’t get together every weekend to battle other Chicago area game designers with knives for whose design is best. Especially since Greg Stolze is a master of the kris and I heard Allen Turner once killed a dude with a spork, so no thanks. We also play a lot of games. Not just ours or even other games that seem similar to the ones we do, but a number of different products.

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Ronin Round Table: The New Green Ronin Online Store

By Evan Sass

If there’s one part of my job and my freelance work that gives me the heebie-jeebies, it’s taking a system that works and has thousands of users or posts or products, like a forum or an online store, and either upgrading it or replacing it with something completely new. But that is exactly what we’ve done with the Green Ronin Online Store. Heebie. Jeebies.

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Ronin Round Table: Not-So-Secret Origins

[Note: It’s a special double-header Friday for Ronin Round Table. Here’s another post, from Steve Kenson, live at Origins in Columbus, OH!]

By the time you read this Ronin Roundtable, I should be attending the Origins Game Fair in downtown Columbus, OH, as a guest of honor, since the convention’s theme this year is "Superheroes" (if they don’t find a way to work the phrase "Secret Origins" into it, that’s an opportunity lost, if you ask me). So, I figured I’d take the opportunity to talk a bit about Origins and my experiences with it, as both a fan and game industry professional.

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Ronin Round Table : Gaming: It’s In The Blood

I’ve been gaming since I was three years old.

My parents were firm believers in games as a family pastime. We played kids’ games like Hi-Ho Cherry-O, Ropes and Ladders, and Candyland as soon as I was old enough, then graduated to things like rummy, Monopoly, and Clue as my reading skills and attention span developed.

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Ronin Round Table: Math, the Silent Killer or Zen and the Art of Licensed RPGs

By Jack Norris, Dragon Age RPG Line Developer

As will surprise probably nobody, I’ve been thinking a lot about adapting licensed media and non-RPG settings in general to games. Specifically, I’ve been considering the challenges each type of media presents when adapting it for a roleplaying game. So I figured I’d use today’s Ronin Round Table to share those thoughts and maybe give some insight into the strange and wonderful world of adapting licensed properties to tabletop RPGs.

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Ronin Round Table: Freebooters Ahoy!

Green Ronin Freebooter Game Demo Program

FREEBOOTER.pngThe Green Ronin team is happy to announce we’re launching our volunteer GM team, aka The Freebooter Program. We’re especially excited to offer this for our players, and we hope that many will step up to the challenge.

We believe there are many amazing Green Ronin games being run, and we believe our players would love to find more people to play them. The Freebooter Program is a great way to get more games in conventions and games stores. By joining the program, you’ll be able to share your favorite settings with brand new people, and help build a better community.

Many companies require you to partner with a particular store, but we’ve decided not to go that route. We want people in our program to run the games that fit in their schedule and locations. As example, in Seattle, we’re lucky enough to have game stores & cafes support each other. Many local players run games in pubs, coffee houses, and more. Want to run an open “Green Ronin RPG Day” at a coffee shop instead of a games store? We want to support that!

Of course, this doesn’t mean move your regular game to a coffee house to earn XP in our program. We hope that you’ll be setting up demos for new people! We also want to support players who wish to do both small and large conventions. We’re already planning on having quite a few volunteer run games at Gen Con. Heck; I’m running five Dragon Age RPG intro games at Gen Con! Obviously, you don’t have to run that many. We do want you to experience the whole show. That being said, we would like to give you XP rewards for a higher commitment. Yep, I said XP. That’s how we’ll calculate rewards. No ranks are involved; everyone is equally important.

It was also important for us to establish a Harassment Policy and standards of behavior while representing Green Ronin. We’re pretty clear about fostering an inclusive community, no matter where we go. This is why we require you to fill out an application to join. If you’re wearing a Freebooter T-shirt representing us at an event, we want you to feel comfortable. We also want people to feel comfortable when they are interacting with a Freebooter.

If you’re interested in knowing more of the program, or signing right up, you can read a quick overview here on our site. Once you’ve read that and want to join, you’ll head to the Freebooter Forum for the application and further information.

I’m extremely excited about this program. I’ve been a fan of Green Ronin and the staff, for far longer than I’ve been an employee. I believe in this company, the community, and the program.

Game on!

Donna Prior