Sharing Dreams | ODAM Publishing Blog
2016 Update from ODAM HQ January 26, 2016 20:51
2016 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for ODAM.
We're working diligently to have several new products available for our players and thought there was no better time than now to share what's on our very hearty plate.
We're having a blast getting everything under way. We'd love to hear your feedback by emailing us at email@example.com or through our social media.
Of Dreams and Magic
This is the one taking up every waking moment, every second of creative thought, driving us to both cheer and argue at ODAM HQ. Dreamscape: Laruna is both the title and setting for ODAM's latest release. This new Dreamscape gives ODAM players a fully detailed world for them to experience either independently or as a dream extension to the core game. This book will give existing ODAM groups a full compliment of material needed to tell stories in a high-fantasy world as well as give access to new Animus, Remnants and Artifacts to bring back with them into their waking world campaigns.
ODAM will be attending #GenCon2016 as a vendor for the second year in a row. We had such an amazing time last year sharing the Of Dreams and Magic core rule book, meeting so many devoted RPG gamers, and paticipating in the epic late night chat sessions. We're counting down the days!
ODAM Publishing is making the Of Dreams and Magic core rule book PDF available on DriveThruRPG.
Although we offer all of our products direct through our website, reaching the widest audience possible is important for ODAM as a company and for the development of future products.
The second entry in a three part series, An Evil Mind is an upcoming story module release that provides Dreamweavers with the necessary tools to tell a story involving the DCMA's investigation into a sequence of serial murders set in the Of Dreams and Magic Waking World.
This game will be in development throughout 2016, with more information being made available after the launch of Dreamscape: Laruna.
Dreamweaver Game Screen
We've had a lot of requests both internally and externally for a Dreamweaver (storyteller) game screen. As we're not in the habit of ignoring our players, we've started developing a screen that will act as a quick reference for the Dreamweaver, while serving as a visually appealing art piece for the players. We're very open to hear what other Dreamweavers would find useful on their screen, so please speak up.
Dreamscapes - The cure for my gaming A.D.D. December 08, 2015 22:48
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is right around the corner and I couldn't be more excited. As soon as the first trailer released, I sent a text to John and asked "Dude (yeah, I still call people dude), would you please write another Sci-Fi story for us?" He laughed and responded "Leave me alone. I'm writing ODAM material." The next month, I'll ask for a high fantasy campaign, and the week after that, I want to play a hard boiled detective story. The poor guy has probably written the intro to a dozen stories in a dozen different worlds. Most, never to be played.
Ultimately, it seems as though I'm heavily influenced by the material I consume and desperately want to live in those worlds. I've come to the conclusion that my constantly shifting desires to play in various settings essentially forced John and Matt to develop the idea for Dreamscapes. So... I guess I'll take the credit for it.
The idea with Dreamscapes is that your Of Dreams and Magic character consistently revisits a persistent dream where they take on the identity of an Animus. In the "real" or Waking World, my character may be a tired, working every-day Joe, but when he dreams he is transported to the world setting of Planet V where he's a Battletech wearing, psionic warrior. Every time he delves into that Dreamscape, he becomes that Animus.
Entire campaigns can be told in these Dreamscapes, with your players never actually dealing with the happenings of the Waking World. Or, your story can weave in and out of each players favored Dreamscape, offering them the ability to take some of these Animus powers back with them into the Waking World. The beauty of it is, the character's background, traits, base skills, etc... stay the same and the ODAM system's foundation remains. It's ODAM, no matter what genre or setting you're playing in.
I know this post may seem like a shameless plug, but the project we're working on at ODAM has me excited about Dreamscapes and the seemingly limitless possibilities to experience stories in various genre's while building on the character that exists in the Waking World. Finally, an answer to my RPG A.D.D.
We've included some example Dreamscapes in the Of Dreams and Magic Core Rulebook, but we would certainly love to hear if anyone has any other great ideas for their dream world.
As always, leave a comment here or connect with us on our social media outlets:
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/2/118287176516663782611/posts
Serious Roleplaying Enhances Campaigns November 25, 2015 23:03
Tabletop roleplaying games are just that - games. They should be treated as such. Is it still better for the overall experience if everyone involved takes the roleplaying aspect seriously? I would answer, yes! Granted, not everyone participating in a tabletop RPG is an academy award winning actor/actress, nor do they need to be, but “staying in character” will improve the pacing of the session (and story), allow the characters to blossom, and allow the other players to stay in the moment.
I’m often the first to goof off and try to get my friends belly laughing, but there’s a time and place for jokes, and a time and place to dive into the mind of the character while acting as they would. Besides, roleplaying is a player’s chance to let loose, have fun, and become someone else or at least an exaggerated (enhanced) version of themselves. That’s the beauty of RPGs, you can be whoever you want and do whatever you want without consequence. It’s make believe. It’s an excellent opportunity to shed your blanket of shyness or lack of self esteem and try things out. I’d venture to say that you’ll find out some things about yourself along the way.
Here’s a couple of tips for becoming/being a good roleplayer:
- Build the character in your mind’s eye - How tall are they, what do they look like, do they have physical or behavioral quirks (see the traits section of ODAM), what do they sound like? Get a good understanding of the character as if they were someone you had a deep relationship with. Get inside their mind and they’ll get inside yours.
- Just say it - Many new players (we’ll refer to them as noobs) will often look toward the storyteller and say “I would like to say that I’m heading west and looking for shelter for the night,” when they should just look at whoever they are conversing with and say “I’m heading west and looking for shelter for the night.” Remember, while the campaign is running, you cease to be and instead becoming your character.
- React as the character would react - The king of the largest realm in the land verbally smacks you in front of the king's guard and court. You as a player want to lash out and take his head… let’s face it, it’s embarrassing. However, it would spell certain death for your character. Make the right choice based on the characters past, motivations, feelings and situation. Don’t let your personal feelings of the event or other players get in the way of crafting a good story. Also, acting foolishly puts the storyteller in a tough spot.
- Play it out - small scenes can often morph into something memorable and great. Just because it’s easier to pass time, doesn’t mean you should. it’s often the quiet time where the characters and stories develop.
- Practice - I’ve been RPing with the same 4 or 5 people for 20+ years. If the storyteller is supposed to be a woman, I can look him dead in the eye and imagine he’s a woman, or an alien, or a robot, or a sentient AI… it doesn’t matter. My imagination takes over easily because I’ve practiced pretending these things. Of course it’s easier because of the company I keep. I’m comfortable looking like fool in front of them, but it’s just a matter of practice. Practice will yield comfort. Comfort will yield smoother roleplaying.
- Come up with things to do - Don’t sit in an empty room waiting for the storyteller to feed you content. If you’re not involved in the main plot, make your own and the storyteller will most likely feed off of that and play along. Little subplots will help build your character and allow you to become more familiar with them. It will also give other players something to play off.
- Don’t be a Jerk - I sometimes forget to stress this since I rarely play with strangers, but seriously… don’t be a jerk. Not everyone laughs at your crude brand of humor or responds well to an off color remark. If you’re trying to be funny and it doesn’t go well, apologize and move on. Though it may be in your character’s nature to say such things, make that known before you let loose on some poor unsuspecting player. “Hey, just want to warn you, my character’s a bit a rude idiot. Are you cool with that or should I tone it down?” It can be that simple. Again, it’s a game. Everyone should be having fun.
As I mentioned above, I have an RPG group and have been fortunate to not have to wonder who else is out there. Not everyone is so fortunate. There are plenty of online forums and sites devoted to online tabletop roleplaying. Many use video chat or text based chat apps to get involved in a story. These are great outlets to practice roleplaying and have a good time doing it. It’s a strong community and is filled with awesome, inspiring players. If you need help connecting with others, reach out to the ODAM guys and we’ll help you get setup.
The Character Sheet - A Piece of Paper or a Physical Representation of your Character? November 14, 2015 10:51
My two cents: I believe the character sheet should give the player a sense of self. At my advanced age (early 30s), I tend to look back on my old character sheets with the fondness one would save for their favorite collectible comic book or something like that. I used to color designs onto the page and make my own subtle graphical enhancements and since those sheets would live with me for the life of the character, they became part of that character's mythos.
That leads me to the age old argument I usually have with my fellow gamers: should the sheet be a keepsake, or is it just a stupid piece of paper that’s only a tool used to enjoy the game? I suppose that’s up to the player, but since I rarely rely on my artistic ability and choose not to invest in miniatures, the sheet is my only physical link with the character I’ve created. The character’s name and stats gets burned into my mind’s eye; every iced tea or candle wax spill, eraser smudge, or smear of ink becomes part of that sheet and therefore part of my mental image of the character. It’s an esoteric way of thinking - old-school even, but the character sheet is more than a piece of paper to me. “It’s real to me, dammit!”
I’ve done a fair amount of “fan” development of character sheets over the years, especially while testing the ODAM over/under die system in pre-existing settings. The point that consistently arises when considering format of the sheet is “function vs. form”.
A sheet should capture all of the necessary data about the character but also provide enough additional information that the player doesn’t have to rifle through the book every time they want to swing a sword, fire a gun, or cast a spell. That’s the function part. The form comes into play when you look at the sheet. Does it represent the look and feel of the game/system or is it a glorified spreadsheet? 8.5” x 11” worth of paper can be limiting in order to achieve harmonic balance between the two, but it is possible… isn’t it?Am I a nutcase, or is there some hippie connection between the sheet and the character? Let me know in the comments below.
All Hail Prince Linchpin November 05, 2015 12:01
- a pin inserted through the end of an axletree to keep the wheel on.
- something that holds the various elements of a complicated structure together:
I’ve been dubbed with many nicknames, but perhaps my favorite is “Prince Linchpin.” Granted, it’s sort of a self assigned title but it has stuck. Let me explain. When creating a new fantasy based character, I wrote in that the elf was the prince of a forgotten house and roaming the land to blah, blah, blah. I then requested (half jokingly) that I be the focal point of the story. I wanted to be the linchpin. One of my fellow players did not take well to my request and began belly aching that he’s never the linchpin. Hence, “Prince Linchpin” was born.
Over the course of many stories my characters are generally the focal point of the main plot. That’s not to say that I’m any better than my fellow gamers, as smart, or as good of a role player. What it does signify is that I’m usually the player that the storyteller can predict the actions of or even trust enough to rest the weight of the story’s events on without it coming off of the rails. As I said, as a player, I’m no more important than the next guy but I’m reliable, predictable, and “trustworthy”. It makes the storyteller’s job that much more simple when he can unfold his story with little to no hiccups along the way. Basically, I’m a simpleton and will play directly into his/her hands and have fun doing it.
You’re probably asking, “why is being a predictable simpleton a good thing?” Well… I like to think of playing the linchpin in a more positive light. The linchpin is usually the player who is more involved in the story. They think of creative ways to develop their character, come up with rich character backgrounds, possibly create NPCs for the storyteller to utilize, and they are the most invested in the story and the most eager to participate. They are easy for the storyteller to work with. In addition to game time participation, this player (the linchpin) will often come up with, or even write short stories that enhance the character’s relationship with NPCs or what have you without intruding on the actual storyline. Therefore, the linchpin is a campaign enhancing role… so really, I am better than the other players.
On the other side of the coin is the lowly character actors; the extras in a scene starring the linchpin. The other players. I generally treat them with disdain and grumble when it’s their “turn” to participate. The storyteller is really just giving me a breather at these points. Allowing me time to eat, drink, come up my next brilliant character decision or roleplaying masterpiece theater moment. The other players are the color commentary to my hall-of-fame play by play calling. What, really, is their role in a campaign?
- Participate in the plots that weren’t good enough for the storyteller to have the linchpin (me) participate in.
- Talk to the NPCs that aren’t interesting enough to hold the linchpin’s (me) attention
- Give the enemies something to shoot or slash at other than the linchpin (me)
- Eat the slightly burnt pieces of pizza and drink the warm, flat soda so the linchpin (me) isn’t exposed to lesser quality of sustenance
- Pick up munchkins and coffee for the storyteller and linchpin (me) to enjoy
Being the linchpin is a demanding job. It requires a dull wit, the inability to play your character properly, and the intensity to be thoroughly involved without really knowing what’s going on. Get it?
Ok… I may have gone of the reservation there a bit, but the idea is that the storyteller will usually gravitate toward a particular character for a story or campaign on which to base his tale. It’s the linchpin’s job to be reliable and help move the story forward. It’s the supporting character’s role to enhance the subplots until it is their time to shine. The storyteller, if competent should strive toward writing an ensemble piece where all the characters have equal play and weight. One where the characters are working toward a common goal. If and when they achieve it, it will be that much more glorious. All hail Prince Linchpin. All hail me.~JE
What makes a great story? | A Quick Guide to RPG Storytelling October 29, 2015 20:11
The Storyteller for RPGs are like goaltenders in ice hockey. They have the load of the team's responsibility and they take on the job no one else seems to want to do. Whether they are forced to do it, enjoy controlling the events of a campaign, or are simply into that sort of thing; they are a rare breed (especially if you get a good one). Coming up with a compelling story is a monumental task. It requires a lot of man hours, especially when you consider that the players hold considerable weight in the pathing of a story. I’ve done my share over the years but always apprehensively.
As an aside, my storyteller (the co-founder and chief creative writer for Of Dreams and Magic) has been crafting elegant tales that traverse the spectrum of elated joy to dark despair for the last 20+ years. He knows what he’s doing. He has a unique perspective on what make characters pop and comes up with memorable interactions that make you feel like you know that “person, alien, robot, etc…” intimately. He also wrote the chapter in Of Dreams and Magic on storytelling. If you’re looking for a master’s tricks of the trade go through that chapter, even If you read nothing else in the book. Enough brown nosing, it won’t earn me any additional XP… he doesn’t give out XP (at least it seems that way).
So, what makes a great story? It’s a loaded question really. Stories usually take on a life of their own if you let them. They have the potential to write themselves, but there are some general rules to follow:
- Know your players - Are they looking for a lighting fast paced hack and slash story or do they want to delve into the inner thoughts and motivations of their characters. To a certain extent, give them what they want. It’s a collaborative story after all and no one wants to go see a movie they have no interest in. Here’s a real life example, I was telling a sci-fi based story about a pit-fighting alien and his friends looking to restore honor to his long lost race of people. I actually received an applause break after the first session. Half way through the campaign, I elevated a simple story to epic proportions and the group turned on me like savage, hungry, wolves. They tore me to shreds and with my dying breath I uttered, “It’s a good story”. They didn’t care, I ruined the story they were interested in playing.
- Outline - Know where your story is going and set milestones throughout. Use the 3 act structure. If it worked for W. Shakespeare, it will work for your RPG story.
- Put in the work - If you know every detail about the setting, main characters, and NPCs your story will appear to be very cohesive. Pacing is key, if you’re shuffling through notes every time a character approaches an NPC or has a question regarding the setting, you’ll look unprepared and the story will crawl to a halt.
- Set a mood - I use music, soft lighting, and good food. Believe it or not it works on dates and an RPG session. Lots of distractions will take your players (mentally) out of the story. Your pacing will suffer and the importance of each scene will diminish. Try to keep a mood throughout, but not at the expense of fun for the group. Sometimes joking around and blowing off some steam will make a session more memorable. Again, know your players.
- Learn to B.S. - Knowing every single detail about your story and rolling dice for every encounter is, realistically, not going happen. However, giving your players the impression that you’re in full control is critical. Don’t let them see you sweat.
These are 5 super simple storytelling tips. This list could easily be 100 or 1,000 bullet points. Becoming a good storyteller takes time, practice, and repetition. They more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be. In addition to the storytelling chapter in the Of Dreams and Magic core rule book, you can watch John dreamweave on the news & events page.
What did I miss? Let me know in the comments below.~JE
I'm Not Crazy - Superstitious Gaming August 28, 2015 14:47
RPG gamers are a superstitious lot. We “charge” or “power up” our dice by leaving them on a particular number for extended periods, we store consumables indefinitely because “if I use it now, I’ll definitely need it later”, and we usually check for traps and treasures in every room we enter (gaming or not). We deathly fear that moment the storyteller or errant roll of the dice will rip from us everything we hold dear. We cannot bear to think that the countless hours spent developing, upgrading, and dreaming about our character will end in utter heartache; so we take careful, precise measures to ensure luck is on our side. Ok, maybe it’s a little OCD. What I’m about to present to you may seem the ramblings of a madman, but it is a rather deep dive into my thought patterns when gathering with good friends to game.
I’ll speak for myself here, but would love to hear the wacky processes and inner thoughts of other gamers out there. Gaming is about sharing, is it not? OK. Here we go…
- I for one like to sit in the same seat when we game. Now, that could be an issue if we change locations - but I generally know the lay of the land and make my gaming space as consistent is possible. Having everyone else is the same seats is a bonus.
- My core rulebook goes down first, my neatly filled out character sheet rests atop it. Perfectly lined up edges are a must. On some occasions, the book and sheet are replaced by a laptop or tablet. It is 2015 after all, but I do prefer having a hard copy book at the ready. Sometimes I bookmark sections that I have to reference often (skills, abilities, spells, etc… especially if I’m storytelling).
- Then I have a #2 pencil sharpened to a fine point and equipped with a good eraser (not one that leaves smudges) and a pilot G-2 .07 pen. Blue or black ink will do - I’m not a weirdo who needs a particular color of ink. I bring extra pencils since I’m usually the only prepared member of the group - and I wasn’t even a boy scout!
- I’ve been branded with the nickname “timestamp”. They mean it as a term of endearment, I’m sure (I think). I keep a spiral notebook handy so I can jot down notes as the story progresses. It’s often a while in between sessions these days and I am a forgetful person. Someone has to keep track… It is also a handy tool when the storyteller goes on and on and I need something to doodle in.
- Most importantly; my dice. With Of Dreams and Magic, only two d10 are required. This is both a bane and boon as I have a fairly extensive collection of d10, but it makes number crunching less crunchy and speeds up gameflow to allow the story to unfold neatly and with improved pacing. That being said, I always “charge” my dice on 0 (or 10 for the uninitiated). My “over” die (translucent green) stays on the left. My under die (translucent red) on the right… the edges touch. The dice must remain straight. I know most probably think this is weird, but I have a friend that used to “charge” his d20 (a black and red, practically magical die, named diablo) in a glass of water until it was time to roll. Sometimes I’ll use other colored dice, but I always “charge” them the same way. If the system we’re playing requires more dice, I line them up numerically.
- Rolling - on or off the book? if they fall off, is that a re-roll? Honestly, I usually just go with whatever is the most convenient for the success, survival, or over achievement for my character at the time… don’t tell my storyteller. Not sure if he’s caught on over the last 20 years. I also either make a fist, knuckles up, and toss the dice with some backspin. Otherwise I turn my hand over and finger roll the dice like I’m going up for a layup in basketball… it’s situational and usually not premeditated.
Weird, huh? If you’ve read this far, you’re most likely laughing and preparing to one up my psychosis in the comments section. As I said before, please do. It would help me sleep at night knowing there are others out there just like me. If you’re thinking “this guy is a nut, I don’t do anything out of the ordinary”, I call B.S. Analyze yourself, you’ll find the unique gamer habits. I guarantee you.
In all honesty, bringing your own personality to a game session (as long as it can be enjoyed by the others at the table) is what makes tabletop RPGs so damned fun. Charge those dice… gotta beat them storytellers!
Growing with your Games August 11, 2015 10:12
This morning I came across a fellow gamer who posted a blog entry about the difficulty of playing tabletop RPGs as an adult. You can check it out here. The dominant concern was the logistic difficulty of several adults with busy lives of their own, making room in their schedule to all sit and play together.
Strangely enough, this issue is a commonplace topic I encounter whenever I discuss the hobby among other adults. As children with less responsibilities, RPGs become vast time sinks that allow the players endless freedom to explore every little facet of their character. Entire sessions can be devoted to a single conflict or scene, and this is fine. Unfortunately, time constraints are unavoidable as adults and such depth is often implausible. No longer can the group set aside a whole evening to game and walk away having spent half of it catching up out of character, and the rest chatting with an irrelevant, yet interesting, non-player character.
Many people use this detail to profess how difficult the hobby is to enjoy as an adult and claim it explains the dominance of less involved gaming methods (boardgames, videogames). While it's true these alternate forms of gaming frequently enjoy less set up time, that does not remove RPG's powerful asset of being completely malleable to the user's desire. Change your game to suit your needs! Below I've listed a couple of concepts that I've focused on to make better use of game time in my adult life.
- Story arcs need to be clear and present. You can't guarantee the players won't take extra time for a task so you don't want to have them accidently spend the majority of a game session without actually advancing the main plot. Players tend to leave the game table feeling like "nothing happened" even if they enjoyed the experience while it was occuring.
- Have players coordinate their character creations more effeciently. Adult players recognize their own time limits and are often more than happy to take efforts that ensure their game time is as productive as possible. Having characters that are well thought out and crafted alongside one another prevents any single player from using a character with vastly different interests than the group. Typically, there is no time for a solo mini adventure, since it comes at the expense of everyone else's game time.
- Use the time inbetween wisely. In my own group, as adults, we shifted our focus to the core story elements and used the time between game sessions to write short stories the extrapolated each characters thoughts/feelings/downtime. This practice served us well as it let the players add some detail to their characters on their own time. We'd pass the stories out among the group and everyone would get insight into each others character, making us better prepped for the next game session.
- Don't prepare stories unless they have reasonable timetables. You need your stories to "end" in a reasonably predictable amount of time. While ending on a cliffhanger can make the anticipation for the next game session exciting, being forced to end in the middle of a pivotal plot moment can sully a story. Adults have strict time tables. Staying a few minutes/hours more just to finish a scene is not always an option.
Adapting your game can alleviate some of the heartache of transitioning from childhood RPG marathons to adult story-driven evenings. Time, however, was not the only issue the blogger mentioned. He came to the second most common conclusion I find gamers arrive at as they grow up with the hobby. Is my game setting/system making it harder for me to enjoy game sessions? Obviously I can not tell you the answer to that, only you can decide what is best for your group. What I can tell you is that in my own experiences, I realized that as myself and my players grew more accustomed to the hobby, we slowly began to realize that it could offer SO MUCH MORE than what was being alluded to in many of our favorite games. Realizing this eventually drove me to create a new game and run a business. I regret nothing - and neither do my players.
All That Remains August 04, 2015 11:50 1 Comment
All that Remains
So after many hours of travel, ODAM Publishing returns home from GenCon. Several days of lugging around books, speaking at the booth, and chatting with fans after hours in our hotel lobby has taken its toll. Our bodies are tired, our feet are sore and our voices are all but gone, but our hearts on the other hand, are filled to the brim.
GenCon was an amazing experience, not only for us as a business, but also as mere witnesses to the greatness a single community can reach. For approximately sixty two thousand people to spend several hours in the same place with such general decency amidst shopping and gaming is simply amazing. It speaks wonders to the superb organizational skills of the many talented men and women who work hard to see GenCon be all it can be. Kudos to you guys for running a splendid convention that we were honored to be a part of.
As for the attendees, the gamer community is a marvelous look at how great people can actually be. We spoke to men and women of all ages, races and religions only to find they were each overjoyed to be taking part in an event that helped them share their passion with one another. Personally, I can't imagine a better reason to find pride in considering oneself a gamer.
ODAM Publishing itself had a very productive trip, selling out of inventory and logging quite a bit of backorders for "Of Dreams and Magic". We are excited to be home and working to fill those orders and exceed our customers expectations with our future endeavours. Thank you to GenCon, our customers, and all who attended for making this past weekend a dream.
Have a great GenCon story or experience to share? Let us hear it!
Website Updates July 14, 2015 21:10
We've made some updates to the website which we think you should check out, whether you're new to Of Dreams and Magic or a returning fan.
If this is your first time on www.odampublishing.com, first off, welcome! Secondly, we invite you to take a look through the "Of Dreams and Magic" drop down on the main navigation bar to learn more about Of Dreams and Magic and see some sample pages from the book.
If this is a return trip (or even if it's your first time), check out our Downloads page. We've uploaded some Facebook profile pictures (we've already seen some fan-made ones out in the wild which inspired us to offer these,) and 3 Facebook cover images (that are cool enough to be used in any number of ways.)
Download them, use them, show off that you've broken the Doubt, and tell the world what Archetype you see when you dream.
A Tale of Two Twenties March 07, 2015 09:00
Continuing on from John’s post about dice and how they affect sessions, I wanted to go into some more detail and tell two stories about how the roll of the die has affected games I've played.
There we were, after months of play and a year of in-game investigation. Sian the Jedi Investigator finally tracked down his fallen brethren, and was going to put a stop to him and his illicit cyberware smuggling schemes once and for all. They faced off for the final confrontation. Initiative was rolled. The player went first.
He rolled a natural 20. A crit. He rolled again to check for critical damage. Another natural 20.
I was faced with a choice. How would I handle this? I didn’t even get to start my evil villain monologue! After a slight hesitation, I went with the choice that I thought would best serve the story. Sian would sever his opponent’s head in one quick stroke of his saber. This event would come to be a funny anecdote, but it definitely wasn't how I had the end of this story planned.
Fast forward some time later. This time, I’m a player. The GM has just introduced the first major villain in the story. He was smart enough to start the evil villain monologue BEFORE the players could muck it up. That same player from the first story then declared “I’m going to shoot him in the face.” He then proceeded to roll two natural 20s in a row. Our GM was faced with the same choice I had been. He looked through his papers, scrambling for an answer, pleading underneath his breath “Please don’t kill this guy.” He eventually said something about a magical force field, rendering the other player’s successes moot.
Now, both of us could have handled these situations better. I didn’t have to have my “final boss” killed in one stroke, and he didn’t have to ignore the player’s roll. But either way, we both were struck with having to change our stories, and not because of some brilliant plan of action or a player subverting our expectations, but because of the roll of a die. And unless you’re setting out to play that kind of dungeon-crawling adventure, having to work a story around a natural 20 is, in my opinion, not very fun at all.
That’s a large part of why the Over/Under system was designed to control dice outcomes. A character’s ability should be the arbiter of whether they succeed or fail, not a random chance that provides a 5% guaranteed success (or failure!) In the process of being a Dreamweaver for Of Dreams and Magic, I’ve still had stories go off track and been surprised. But it’s when a player comes up with a great idea, or decides he’d much rather travel to Santa Fe himself instead of trusting an NPC to do it. Never have I had a story go off course because of one good or bad roll.
Good luck out there, and don’t let them catch you monologue-ing.
Dice in Your Games January 05, 2015 02:00
Every table top RPG fan comes to associate dice with the hobby. For some they are the tools of the trade, helping them craft one fun-filled evening after another. For others, they are their weapons of choice, much like a grizzled warrior and his favorite battleaxe. For myself they were an odd fusion of opposing concepts. For the most part, dice remind me of good things, predominately the laughter shared by myself and my friends. The Dreamweaver in me however finds them a strange source of frustration. I’m sure if you've every played a popular RPG you know how dice can play a pivotal role in the game session’s outcome.
In most games, dice represent a huge randomness that can cause even a world renowned archer to miss a reasonably routine shot. Now don’t get me wrong, this has in it’s own way supplied a great deal of laughter for my play group. For example, one of my good friends is notorious for serving up good rolls, so much so that he started enshrining his favorite dice as a sort of mockery over his fellow players. His often stupidly good luck would turn a dangerous task into a laugh fest as he massacred any foes he met, or accomplished the impossible. Another example would be one of my other friends who was the complete opposite. This particular friend was practically cursed. His terrible rolls at key moments would become the source of amusement for years. Fortunately, he was a good sport and never took it too hard when his mighty character would inexplicably fall victim to weaker opponents, due only to his crummy luck.
My feeling regarding dice in my games has always been this: They should not be overshadowing the player who’s rolling them. While I certainly agree the wild casino-like feeling of watching big or small numbers pop up is surely exciting, it can easily take away from the over all satisfaction of gaming if it is not handled properly.
I could list dozens of situations that occurred in my own experiences that made me come to this conclusion.
- A heroic warrior of legendary status being struck down by a foe via a string of consecutive criticals
- Running a low level adventure for a first time player and having to lie so some crappy enemy doesn't immediately kill them with lucky rolls
- One friends renowned archer missing a stationary target only to then hit a guy on horseback with what is still to this day, the most consecutive perfect rolls I’ve ever seen
The list goes on and on. That of course is not even addressing the silliness that would ensue because of how odd extreme rolls could be. One player of mine would occasionally fudge die rolls just to make sure things went their way. Oddly enough I often would agree with his efforts in retrospect, mainly because it would often be something I’d have had to openly hand wave and over rule anyway, for the better of the game. This always left me feeling like it wasn't really the dice that deserved the blame, rather the rules that governed them. The impact dice have had on my experiences lead me to design my own game system, mainly because for all the laughs they’d sometimes provide, they inevitably become more important to the outcome than the players actually playing the game. I personally find that very unrewarding.
Whether you agree or not, I’d love to hear how dice have affected YOUR game experiences. Drop me a line in the comments or use the Contact Us link to send an email with your favorite story of dice in your games.
How Stories Last a Lifetime December 04, 2014 22:00
Years back I remember thinking about how poignant the statement “Happiness is only real when shared” really is. You may have seen this line written by the main character of the film “Into the Wild”. It is certainly true that we humans are social beings, yet never do I feel it’s more obvious than when we seek to share our joys. I’ve always found that happy moments, both grand and small, have a much greater impact when they are shared with others. How many times have you seen something “amazing” or “cool” and the first thing you did was check to see if anyone else witnessed it? I believe that response is a sort of instinct closely tied to the concept that things are much more certain, or real, when you can share them. When discussing the topic, a friend once told me to think of it as if a fervent believer in a religion was communicating with fellow members of their faith. They aren’t just telling each other what they believe – they’re sharing what they know.
This concept is something I feel stands out about tabletop gaming as a hobby. I’m sure any gamer can agree that the great memories they have of their role-playing escapades include the people they shared those experiences with. Together, a group of people take the time to share a story, and since they all experienced it, that story becomes very real to them.
Over the years I’ve seen how that has proven true among my friends. Many times we’d go out and somehow the conversation would steer to a campaign or story we played and before you knew it, we were reminiscing. The funny part about it is if you could step back from the conversation, you would think we were talking about people we knew or things we had done. Sure if you heard one of use mention slaying a villain or using a magic power you would know it was not literal truth, but to my friends and I, those stories we regale ourselves with over and over again are as real as any of our other memories.
In a strange way, it’s as if we had built our own second history. There was the time my friend Mael insulted an ancient vampire by putting his feet on the their office desk. Or the time my buddy Panko just HAD to report me to the jedi council for “committing atrocities of GALACTIC proportions”. And lets not forget getting choked up when I watched another friend Valentine say goodbye to his creator, before heading off to certain doom. All of those people mentioned are not real people. They are characters played by my friends in some of the most memorable stories I’ve had the pleasure of being part of. Yet to me those events, along with their humor, passion, and brilliance are very real. They have become shared memories that my friends and I can recall at a moments notice, much like our favorite movies. Those moments became real because we shared them with each other. That is a uniquely satisfying gift to have been given by a seemingly simple form of entertainment. To this day I still have my closest friends entered in the contact list of my phone by the names of their most memorable characters. Some of their characters were played so long, and became so iconic to our playgroup, that the person playing them adopted the characters name as a sort of nickname – even when not actively playing a tabletop game. Some stories we all had partaken in changed the way we looked at life, our own ethics, and even each other! That kind of profound impact is only possible when the medium of entertainment is both personal and shared. I’ll have fond memories of the stories my friends and I shared for the rest of my life.
So my advise is this: Share your dreams so both they and the happiness they bring you, can be real.
The Beginning | The Foundation of ODAM Publishing October 02, 2014 09:00
So here is the very first entry of our websites blog “The Shared Dream”. I guess it is only appropriate that we start at the beginning. As is normally the case in my world, it started with a dream. Have you ever had one of those dreams that seemed so oddly vivid, so strangely real, that you woke finding it difficult to seperate what had happened when you were sleeping from what happened when you were awake? It was one dream just like that which caused me to begin a several year long odyssey that led to the creation of ODAM publishing.
I had been out late with some friends, burning the midnight oil, soaking in all the laughter I could before having to call it a night and get to bed. Mind you this wasn’t a drinking affair, simply a causal hang out that had us recalling comical memories into the night. You know those kind of convo’s where your buddies get on a roll telling stories about all the silly or crazy things you’d all done together. Every funny shared memory comes out with a chorus of laughter and your cheeks hurt before the night is over. Yeah it was that kind of evening, so as you would imagine I was in no rush to to call it quits early and head to sleep.
Sleep came eventually of course, and that was when the strangeness set in. In my mind, I had woken up, startled by my dreams, and spent sometime talking to a friend about it on the phone.
I had breakfast, got dressed, went to work, spoke to some more friends about the crazy dream I had, and discoverd they had all had the same dream. In fact, we had all experienced exact same dream, yet hadn’t realized it until we spoke about it on the phone. In this dream we were in a strange place and none of us were strictly ourselves. You know how you can be in a dream and somehow know that you are both you, and not you, at the same time? Well we all had that happen. Each of us were a character capable of some pretty wild magic, and the dream had some fairly bizzarre components that I’ll spare you the details of. The thing we could not all get over was how we all experienced the exact same dream. To us it was as if we had lived through something real and we could hardly get over it.
Eventually the day ended and exausted from the night prior’s turbulent sleep, I went to bed early. I woke up and went about my day as I normally would. It wasn’t until one of my closest friends called me at work that I realized how screwy things had gotten. See my friend was calling to ask if I was alright. When I asked him what he meant, he informed me that I’ve been ignoring eveyone’s calls and text messages. Of course, I had no idea what he was talking about and made a snide comment about how he should stop being an ass. His confusion was so obviously geniune that I asked him to hold on a sec. I remember scrolling through my phone to find the missed calls log and seeing dozens of phone numbers from the day before. Mildly freaked out, I started scrolling through my texts and found more that a few people sent me messages that I completely ignored. I rationalized the best I could and told my friend something must have been wrong and I just didn’t receive them until today. I even asked him “Why didn’t you just mention it while we were on the phone?”.
Turns out I never spoke to my friend the day prior. Truth was I never spoke to anyone. I had apparently fallen asleep, and literally slept through a whole day somehow. Now I’ve never been a big sleeper so I was slow to come to grips with this realization. It was all a dream. I had literally had a dream about telling my friends about a dream I had – in a dream. Never could I remember a dream being so vivid or oddly “real” that I couldn’t tell that it hadn’t actually happened. The worst part of it all was I couldn’t speak to my friends anymore about our adventures as these super cool magic wielding people.
So after calling friends and loved ones and passing around the excuses of “I was sick” and “I slept late”, I came to the conclusion that the whole experience was so strange and surreal, that I needed to do something with it. Thus came the inspiration for “Of Dreams and Magic”. I told one of my closest friends about my dream, this time for real, and explained how I thought the ideas it gave me would make for an outstanding Roleplaying game, and he agreed with me. More than just agreeing, he started to believe. I went on and on about all the things that we could do and how great a company could be that produced the kind of game that could be endlessly enjoyed by anyone. Everyone dreams, and why shouldn’t they have the thrill of sharing those dreams with others?
Before I knew it, I had started a new dream. I wanted to take my experience and use it to create a company that would provide a full line of inspiring, enjoyable tabletop games that my friends and I would be proud of. I realized I wanted to share my dream with everyone, and have them share theirs as well.
So that’s how it all started.
Welcome to ODAMpublishing.com! September 16, 2014 08:30
Welcome to ODAMPublishing.com, the new home on the web for Of Dreams and Magic. We are slowly but surely hitting a point where fantasy and reality is intersecting – Of Dreams and Magic is a game about people making their dreams into a reality, and that’s what’s happening right here and right now.
What started as a dream became an idea, which became hand-written notes, which eventually became a full-fledged set of rules, a website, and eventually will become a final product. We hope after looking through the site and downloading our beta kit, you start believing in this dream too. We also hope it inspires you to continue dreaming your own dreams and attempting to make them real. We’ve always believed we’d get to this point, but it’s really special to actually be here. If we can do it, you can do it too. Always remember – magic IS real, and dreams matter.