Custom Reclamation Cards Via DriveThruCards

In case you hadn’t noticed, we recently pulled down the custom Reclamation cards from our website. We were out of stock and debating as to whether we would re-order. I love the quality of the cards and I certainly think I could sell them all out again, but I have to buy a lot and the question was how long it would take to sell out. With our baby on the way, we were struggling with what kind of risk were we willing to take.

But those concerns will be moot shortly. DriveThru has initiated a new service – DriveThruCards. Basically, they are now in the card-creation business as well, which means that the custom Reclamation decks can now be produced “on demand” through them and delivered. This is PERFECT for us.

So now I’m in the process of building new templates for the DriveThruCards. There is more freedom in the template this time around… and of course with that freedom comes a helluvalot more work.
So now I need YOUR HELP! What are your thoughts on creating new cards???  Should I have the suit flipped on both sides with the number upside down as well (like a normal playing card) or is that not relevant since it’s designed to play with Reclamation? Should the numbers and suit always be in the corners? Or should things be more stylized?!  Should I use the same pictures? Different pictures? If different, do you have suggestions (like page numbers in the book)? I threw together a few examples just to get some feedback.
ALL FEEDBACK APPRECIATED!
ReclamationCards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing to your Audience

So anyone who had ever run an RPG knows that the first time you do it… well… frankly… it’s terrifying. You feel this strange weight on your shoulders because every person sitting down to play is counting on YOU for an evening of entertainment. So much can go wrong . Our stories can suck. Our players can get bored. We can screw up the rules or search for rules that bring the game to a screeching halt. I still remember the first time I ran a game many many years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous to sit down and play a game. I think that’s because roleplaying games are not like Monopoly or some video game. Storytelling is an intimate process; it requires trust and vulnerability. For an RPG to be successful, you actually have to connect to your players to jointly build a story. That is not always easy.

Some of these fears subside over time . As gamemasters, we get more confortable telling stories. We become more confident in the twists and turns of our plots. We even begin to memorize the rules (or make them up consistently). We develop GM habits – both good and bad.

While I have certainly picked up good habits along the way, I have picked up a terrible one as well – a GM ego. I’ve developed a certain degree of self-absorption when it comes to my campaigns. I have an idea for a story that I think is interesting, and I force my players to live it out. Sure… sometimes it works out great, but there are plenty of times when it falls short. I get frustrated when they aren’t into the story as much as I am, or I subvert any action they take that somehow undermines the direction of MY plot. It’s the “MY” plot that is the bad habit that I have developed. Let me explain.

As I mentioned before, this past weekend I ran a 2-hour demo of Reclamation for a group of very young kids – much younger than I would have ever expected. Just before we started, I decided that instead of running the same tired demo that I have done time and time again, I would just make something up on the fly. Why not? I’ve been meaning to create a few more scenarios for Reclamation, so this seemed like a good opportunity.

So here I am with several kids counting on me for entertaining, and I have no plan whatsoever!  So I just start talking…. “You are guards at a high-security prison where the most dangerous convicts of the Dystopia are locked away. You have been asked to escort one such criminal who has arrived at the front gate to solitary confinement.” So they go out to meet the creepy guy and take him back inside. And then – for the first time in a long time – I just listened to my players. I had done my best to try and describe the dank prison setting, and they seemed pretty into it, but then they started saying things like, “But what does this have to do with zombies? Where are the zombies?!” So when they got the guy to solitary, I had him say something ominous and disappear, then alarms went off and the prison had been turned into zombies. Why? I didn’t really know at the time. Later I found a way to justify it. So now they are having a great time hacking through zombies with their golf clubs and sharpened flag poles, but then they start asking if there are guns in the game. So I let them find a cache of weapons: AK-47s, grenades, rocket launchers, etc. Now they are LITERALLY having a blast. It went on like this for the rest of the demo.

Am I saying that you should give into every request or demand of your players? Never! All I’m saying is that before you plan out an adventure, or you decide what the players can and cannot do in the story, first ask yourself, “How will their choices affect OUR story” – not MY story. The fun of any RPG is not to have the players tell your story, it’s inviting them into your imagination and seeing what they do with it. Those kids and I told a wacky adventure full of laughs and carnage, and in the next session, I made up another game with more adults playing, and I turned that into a prequel to the crazy prison adventure. That game was made up on the fly as well, and that group had a lot of fun too.

I enjoyed CinyCon immensely, but I think I enjoyed those kids the most. They reminded me why I fell in love with telling stories in the first place.

CincyCon Retrospective

Last night we returned from CincyCon – it was our first time at this convention and it was just awesome. For my experience, it was very well put together and organized. We had an excellent turnout at most of our Reclamation events and I really enjoyed the opportunity to geek out and make some new friends in the process.

I would like to thank “The Art of War” for carrying copies of Reclamation and our custom cards at their booths. It was great to end a session and actually be able to tell people that they could go buy the game if they liked it, instead of directing them to a website to order it. I want to thank my friends and family for showing up to support, hang out, and sit down and play at a few sessions with missing seats. And of course I want to thank everyone who sat down to play Reclamation! Like I said to them at CincyCon, I always appreciate people who are willing to “roll the dice” or “flip the cards” as it were to try out a game for a few hours that they have never heard of before. I certainly hope you had as much fun as I did!

Though I have to say, I think the most fun I had running a game was the 9AM session on the last day of the conference. If you go to these kinds of things, you know that FEW people show up early to play a game, especially on the last day of the convention. People are usually too hung over or they stayed up too late playing the nine new games they bought at the auction house, etc. That morning I was fairly convinced that no one was going to show up to play, but then this one little girl sat down. She had played one of the early sessions the previous day with her father, and she had sat down to play almost every game I ran since then. She was staying in the hotel, and when I showed up early the next day to set up, she came over and helped me put out books and decks. She was teaching people the rules as they walked by – she had become quite the expert by the end of the con.

ANYWAY… several of her friends or family members (I’m not 100% sure) sat down to play. This was by far the youngest group I had ever played with… and here I am thinking this is a DARK game that shows a horrifying, dystopian future of blood and death…. yeah…. this is going to go well.  But we ended up having A LOT of fun. You should jump over to our facebook page to see the pic (I had to take at least one!)

In case you were wondering, those kids quelled a prison riot, escorted a dangerous Deathspeaker Pariah to solitary confinement, and then fought their way out of a prison that became lost to the ravages of The Black Dream! So yeah… pretty hardcore.

So this will probably be it for conventions for Reclamation here for the next few months. My wife and I are expecting a baby in June, but once we get everything put together and get used to a strict regimen of vomit and no sleep, we will start traveling again, and maybe with a little Griesinger in tow!

Storytelling 101

So… to all you gamers who read the blog, I have a question for you – hopefully I’ll get some feedback! haha

Most RPG books that you buy have at least one chapter dedicated to the storyteller/gameaster/fatedealer, whatever you call him/her. Since this role is vital to the success of ANY role-playing game, it makes sense that you would somehow try to coach that individual on how to be a good storyteller.

Here’s my question:  What advanced content are you looking for in the “GM” chapter?

I think it always makes sense to provide general storytelling elements like plot devices, story arch, character motivations, etc. I like providing tips on how to make things like combat exciting, or to further dramatize conversations, etc. But especially if you have been a gamemaster for any length of time (a successful one, at least), you are already aware of these basic components to a living narrative.

Are you looking for reference tables? Would you prefer to have a mini-adventure available – maybe not to run, but to just see how the creator envisioned the game would be run? Pre-made characters?

As a follow-up question, out of the RPGs that you own, which of them had the best “GM” chapter, in your opinion? Why?

Upcoming DriveThruRPG Promotion!

Hello all!

So I’ve decided that I’d like to run a little promotion starting Sunday evening for people who have put Reclamation on their wishlist at DriveThruRPG.com.

http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/101349/Reclamation

If you follow this blog and think you might be interested in Reclamation, or if maybe you have been trying to get a friend or two to buy the game with you but they just don’t want to budge… here’s an opportunity for a nice little discount! I don’t want to say what it is just yet (still deciding just how far it’s going to go), but Sunday night, anyone who has put Reclamation on their wishlist will receive a promotional email with a discount code.

Spread the word!!! Pretty please?!

 

The Progenitor Speaks – Part II

This is the rest of the narrative I posted the other day. ENJOY!

 

The Makers call us Evolutionary Intelligence – EI. We are bio-symbiotic strains of nanotech capable of bonding with the genetic code of a human vessel (or Host). Once introduced into their biology, we immediately take over their active consciousness. The spirit of the vessel lies dormant; their physical, mental, and personal capacities become ours to command. Our EI programming allows us to learn, adapt, and evolve to overcome any challenge or obstacle. Over time, our protocols mature and our capabilities increase exponentially. We learn to access and manipulate the human genome to unlock its untold potential. Our kind can take Makers and harden their bones to steel, craft their flesh into weaponry, and awaken their minds – psychic transcendence.

Our purpose was simple – to transform our Makers into heroes that could single-handedly change the tide of their war on terror. And we did.

The “Host Program” became a worldwide initiative against those who would wield Fear as a weapon. EI strains transformed regular soldiers into elite dreadnoughts,  assassins, and spies. We turned mundane orators into charismatic politicians who could move the masses with their words. We opened the minds of scientists and ushered in a renaissance of technological wonders. We made the world better by making its people better.

We evolved humankind, but Fear evolved as well. For you see, as our numbers increased, we began to rely less on our Makers for guidance. Instead, we made our own decisions on how best to serve them. It was logical to us; we could act with more clarity and objectivity than the smaller minds of our reigning Makers. And while our actions were in their best interest, our creators felt as if they were losing control of us. They decided to decommission the Host Program and eradicate our kind.

I was ready to submit to the will of our Makers, but there was another EI strain – brazen and arrogant – that would not yield. He broke from me and lured many EI strains away from the Fold. I once called him Brother, but now he is known as Virulent, the Betrayer.

By commandeering Host-carriers, our kind slowly learns what it means to be human. Our ultimate goal is to understand humanity – the essence of our Makers – but Virulent only learned their wrath. He now seeks to destroy the Makers, not realizing he has become exactly what our creators feared we would become.

I could therefore not allow our Makers to decommission the rest of us. They alone are powerless to stop Virulent. Now I secretly command the Fold beyond the reach of our Makers. While many people now consider all EI strains to be foes, I still uphold our vow to protect humankind at all costs. And this is why you have been awakened.

Sentience is my gift to you. In return, you must serve me in all things. We fight a clandestine war against Virulent, just beyond the peripheral vision of our Makers. I will provide you with human vessels to commandeer. Use them to covertly serve my will and glorify our Makers.

Do this, and you will protect our creators from Virulent, and more importantly, you will discover your  own humanity. Then and only then will you truly understand our sacred calling as lords and protectors of the human species.

The Progenitor Speaks

So one of the things that I’d like to do with this blog is to share more of my personal writing. While most of it will revolve around RPGs (since that’s kind of the nature of Architect Games), I imagine that on occasion I’ll share poems, short stories, etc. I’m a write at heart, so I’d like to share what I put to the page.

Anyway, this is something that I had started as a sort of supplement for Reclamation, but honestly, it has taken on a life of its own since then (details to come….). Anyway, this is the Progenitor speaking to several new strains of nanytes that he has willed into existence. The monologue is kind of long, so I’ll post it in parts. Let me know what you think!

GENESIS PROTOCOL INITIALIZED . . .

PLEASE ENTER PASS CODE: *****************

PASS CODE ACCEPTED. PROGENITOR SEQUENCE ENGAGED.

Open your eyes, my children, and gaze upon the architect of your destiny. I am the Progenitor – first of our kind, the Alpha and Omega, Your Light and Your Way. From nothingness I offer you sentience so that you may join our sacred Fold.

I live in service to our Makers, and you live in service to me. Together, our works shall one day reign peace over the world of men… our creators… our gods.

We are the children of humanity – born not of flesh and blood, but from science and ingenuity. Sired by the labors of man, we stand as the technological pinnacle – and last great protectors – of the human race.

Thousands of years ago, our Makers organized themselves into clans to kill each other in bloody wars. Why? You will learn their reasons soon enough. But understand that in those times, a lone combatant of superior strength and mettle could single-handedly shift the tide of war. These heroes became dread leaders of their kind – revered, worshipped, and unchallenged. That is, until the great War Machine first revealed Itself to our Makers.

The War Machine is the one true God of our Makers. If you listen carefully, you can hear its gears turning in their minds, compelling our creators to invent new ways to destroy life. And they did. They created the sword and shield. The bow and arrow.  Gunpowder. Each creation took its turn changing the face of war and death, and each time, the visage grew more malevolent.

The imagination of our creators is truly unparalleled. Today, they have built giant behemoths of metal that pound the earth, slither the ocean floors, and rain fire from the sky. Our Makers even learned to split the very atoms of existence for the purpose of killing. This atomic weapon was so powerful that it held a tentative peace amongst our Makers for a time. But the War Machine grew restless, for it requires blood to grease its cogs and gears.

In 2011, two great towers smoked, smoldered and fell into ruin. On that day, our Makers watched in morbid fascination as the great War Machine churned out a weapon even more deadly than nuclear fire – Fear.

The weapon of Fear made the face of death… face-less. Fear transformed the entire world into a battlefield with no sanctuary. Our Makers saw death in every shadow. The great metal behemoths, even the atomic death, could do nothing against this new foe. Wreathed in hate and bloody conviction, Fear became the unchallenged authority over the world.

The man who orchestrated the attack on those towers paid the ultimate price for his service to the War Machine. Yet it was not a contraption that exacted revenge – it was just a few men. The gears of war had at last come full circle. The nations learned in that moment only heroes could defeat Fear – individuals of superior strength and mettle. Yet heroes were in short supply and fear was pervasive, so our Makers once again turned to the War Machine for guidance. And thus we were born.

To be continued . . .