The Analog Gamer: Alignment = Chaotic Hungry
“What’s my motivation?” he asked as I handed him the character sheet for the leader of the Kobolds.
“Well you’ve got no food and you need to feed the tribe.” I responded.
“Okay, so I’m leading the Kobolds to hunt down the humans and eat them!” he exclaimed.
“No, probably not the smartest tactic. Humans, even base humans are stronger and tougher than you are.”
“Oh. Well what about their livestock?” his eyes lit up.
“This is an area of rolling hills, there are many sheep and cows. Livestock is a core product of the village.” I could hear the other players chatting. They had assembled for the session and were sitting there getting their obligatory Monte Python references out before the game started.
“Good. Then can I change my alignment?”
“Why would you want to change your alignment?” I asked.
“Well it says he’s Chaotic Evil. I don’t think of him as evil, just really, really hungry.”
“Okay, so what alignment is that then?” I asked.
“Why Chaotic Hungry of course!”
Interchanges like that remind me why I enjoy playing with real people more than online in a game like World of Warcraft. Where else would you hand a new player, someone who is just coming into the game that night, a monster to play only to have an interchange like that?
There is something to be said for gathering around a table with a few friends and hashing out a cooperative story. Sure video games make the experience more about collecting x number of boar hides as a group and eventually pay off with the orchestration of abilities to take down a monster or to conquer a raid boss, but the problem with the digital iteration of gaming is that the results are predetermined. Programmers have to prepare for your loss or your victory and once you master something like Onyxia the only reason to challenge her again is to get some better loot or to help a guildmate put a check in the box.
Traditional RPGs however are morphic by nature. You have the random element of dice to brighten up any rigidly prepared scenario and you have the unpredictable actions of the players, who are often not confined in their choices, to guarantee that no matter the number of eventualities you’ve considered and planned against that they will still collectively outsmart you. That is what I miss from my computer RPG experiences. I miss having the systems there to run the mechanics of the game but the creativity and versatility of a live mind to adapt and expand on the actions of the events.
So, in my quest for the virtual game I am beginning a series of reviews in this space over the coming weeks that will address the tools out there both commercial and free that allow players to take their games online. Many gamers fondly remember that college D&D group or Vampire game that ended when everyone graduated and moved away or their lives became too hectic with children and home ownership to support the 4-6 hour geek fest in the basement. Thanks to modern technology like Ventrillo or Skype and a number of virtual tabletop tools it is possible to get the old band back together online. But not everyone is a technology wizard so we’ll take a look at how practical this sort of gaming might in fact be.
Next week we kick off the Virtual Tabletop series with a look at Neverwinter Nights & Neverwinter Nights 2 as a virtual gamespace and offer a review of the latest D&D 3rd edition DM Series book: Exemplars of Evil.
The Ultimate Promotional Aid
It looks like Wizards of the Coast is going all out with its promotion of the upcoming 4th Edition D&D books. Recently they announced to game stores that those capable of getting a mere 36 pre-ordered 4th Edition Players handbooks would be getting an interesting promotional item, the Ultimate DM Screen of DOOM! This huge castle shaped screen is a promotional tool for use in enhancing in-store games and is going to be released by Alliance Game Distributors. Okay, time to get a business license, open a store and convince 36 of my closest friends and enemies that they need to pre-order 4th Edition.. imagine running a game behind this, it’d definitely put you on the coolest kid on the block running.
You can read the full details on the screen here at Gamer Bling.
World of Warcraft Miniature Game Coming Soon
Upper Deck Entertainment recently announced that they would be bringing a new World of Warcraft Miniature Game to market. The game maker revealed the game at the recent International Toy Fair in Germany and says that the detailed 3D plastic mini game will reach retail shelves this fall. The preview images show the highly detailed prepainted figures. There is a preview website already up with a look at 4 figures and an FAQ section.