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derpypatato  asked:

Do you have any tips for a newly starting RPG player?

- Picking a game
Look into Quickstarts and Beginner Boxes until you find something you like. You can get a few different QuickStart PDFs from DrivethruRPG for free.
- Don’t be afraid to get into character
Everyone is there to play make believe and it’s far better when everyone throws themselves into character than when people are trying to maintain a facade of cool detachment while playing. Good role playing will often get you some bonus xp from the GM too.
- Keep notes or better yet, a journal
A little notebook will help you keep NPC’s in order, keep related information together and help you get back into the game easier at the start of each session. The GM can check out player notes when they may have forgotten something or draw on the opinions expressed within for new ideas.
- Drop your hang ups
The games table needs to be a safe place for everyone and people who game come from many different groups. Make your gaming group a welcoming one, diversity benefits us all by giving us a larger pool of experiences to draw upon. Gaming is not solely the domain of white male geeks many believe it to be.
- Game forums
A super handy resource many people overlook even though it’s more accessible than ever is the Internet. I am currently running a Star Wars game and started off with a published adventure, I went to Fantasy Flight Games forums and found out what other people did to add to the game and came away with a few great ideas.
- Think of the story like a movie or book series
Foreshadowing, red herrings, Chekhov’s gun, pay attention to everything (this is where notes can come in handy) and remember to pump NPC’s for information. The person who wrote the adventure put everything there for a reason.
- Have a good idea of WHO you are playing
Don’t think of your character as “Level one, Human, Fighter.” Work with the GM to give them a personality and background that is interesting and try to consider things from that perspective. Most classes gain their abilities through training, where did you get yours? Did you always intend to make your way as an adventurer? Do you have family? A goal? How has your past challenged your world-view? How was your outlook on life coloured by your training? The character development memes on tumblr are handy for this, the ask memes can be too if you answer them in character.
- Avoid cliches and negative tropes
The best example I can think of for this is called a Fishmalk… In Vampire: The Masquerade there is a clan of Vampires called Malkavians who, because of their vampire blood all gain a “derangement” which is basically a mental illness they have to deal with which many players read and instantly thought “I am going to play my Malkavian as a wacky vampire version of Bugs Bunny, only with less restraint and ability to reason, I shall also make them carry a bloody teddy bear wherever they go, wear bunny ears and pyjamas to every social event and run about hitting NPC’s in the face with fish.” When they should have been thinking more Dexter Morgan or Annie Wilkes who are viewed as mostly normal if somewhat odd by people who don’t directly experience the manifestation of their mental illnesses.
- Be mindful of lore
Work with your GM or players to craft characters that fit the setting, reserve character ideas that don’t fit for other games. Most game worlds are developed enough to find something you will enjoy.
- Don’t Powergame or Minmax
That is to say, don’t make character build decisions based on what will get you a bigger attack die more HP or access to a lightsaber if it’s not right for your character. You’re there to play a person not a mathematical construct.
- GM’s may want to provide “player packets”
Maps, a brief history, local legends, news and rumours and a rundown of the local power structure, slang specific to the setting and a glossary of terms are all things that could be handy for a player to know, presented in a little folder that contains their character sheet can help them have needed information at hand instead of forcing you to go digging through notes when they have more general questions about the setting.
- Finding a group
Many company websites have forums containing a group finder thread. Game shops may have advertisements for gaming groups posted about and some stores like Haven for Heroes in Port Jervis NY will let you play in store.
- Engage your fellow players not just your GM
If you are in a group with the other people at the table don’t only be talking to your GM. If you think your character would discuss things with another character at the table talk about it, you can often get bonus points out of your GM for good roleplaying ;)
- Dealing with conflict
Be cool headed and wait to talk it over with the GM or offending party and the GM when there is a break. If things don’t go your way don’t be a broody grump about it, try to move on. If things do go your way, don’t be a gloating jerk either, he only thing worse than a poor loser is a bad winner.

fullycapabledamsel-deactivated2  asked:

I am wanting to write a assassin/spy type novel which I'm still in the very early stages of outlining. I've set aside a few months for intensive research, as I want to be knowledgable on what I'm writing about to produce the best quality manuscript I can. Long story short as a writer with practically no knowledge on the subject what websites, articles, movies, books do you suggest as a must. Thanks in advance!

We’re both a bit under the weather at the moment, so I’m going to try to put together a comprehensive link set off our articles. Sorry about that.

We’ve covered both assassins and spies in the past.

Starting with assassins, I wrote a very basic primer about assassins here. It’s also probably pretty important to read that before going into this question about a team.

Michi also wrote the basic methodology primer, and a list of things to avoid doing with the genre. Just, general cliches and bad ideas. And of course, what to do when your assassin in training accidentally kills somebody.

For spies, we don’t have quite as much stuff out there. Michi wrote a psych profile on spies, and then I followed up with some additional details on the limitations of that profile.

Finally, I’m going to fish out the recommendations list from this article, since it’s probably the most comprehensive one we’ve done for spies, and update it a bit. It was formatted with lighthearted super-spies first, and more grim and bitter approaches second.

Burn Notice’s is a bit schizophrenic. The narrator isn’t just a completely different character from Michael Westen, he’s actually at a different point on the spectrum. The show itself is fairly formalistic, while the narrator is talking about concerns and behavior from a realistic perspective. It’s part of why the show worked so well, but when you’re drawing from it, remember to keep those elements separate.

If you’re wanting to go more in the superspy direction, James Bond is the gold standard. License to Kill and Casino Royale are probably the most realistic (which isn’t saying much). If this is a good thing or not is a matter of taste.

The Bourne Identity (the first film only) is another solid formalistic example. (The second and third film have better fight choreography, but they suffer from a terminal case of shaky cam; which requires you already have a solid grasp of hand to hand to really follow.) The only part of Legacy I’ve seen was Jeremy Renner’s fantastic hand to hand work. It’s more cop than spy, but if you have the time, it could be worth looking at.

The novel is actually much closer to an American James Bond, with the serial numbers filed off. You can pick up some basic tradecraft from it, particularly Bourne’s thought process about blending into his environment can be very useful, and it’s something the film does skim completely over.

Salt is solidly in the superspy genre, the sleeper agents demonstrate supernatural resilience to damage, and the entire premise is a little crazy. But, if your spies aren’t really human, you could probably get some ideas from this.

Red is basically in the same vein, fun, but equally ludicrous. Again, if your spies have actual superpowers, go ahead and watch it. Karl Urban’s character might be worth looking at even if you are pushing for a more realistic bent.

Chuck wore thin for me. There’s stuff to like, so, it might be worth your time if you want to mess around with superspies interacting with the normal world.

The original Get Smart TV series is freakin’ brilliant. It’s a parody of the superspy genre that was partially helmed by Mel Brooks. Obviously, it’s not even remotely serious, but if you’re wanting to mock that genre it’s a must see.

If you’re wanting to run harder into the realistic genre, then you’re going to be looking at a much bleaker recommendation list. I’d start with The Human Factor by “Ishmael Jones”. This an ex-CIA case officer’s memoires, it’s easily available and deals with the current state of the American Intelligence community.

Blowback by Chalmers Johnson isn’t actually about spies per say, but it is about the political consequences of espionage (and foreign policy in general). This might not be something you want to delve into, but I’ll leave it on the list.

With the non-fiction reading out of the way, John Le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a classic in the genre with good reason. The novel’s been adapted twice, with Alec Guinness and Gary Oldman playing George Smiley. I haven’t seen either, but the novel is a good primer for writing spies.

Having since seen the mini-series with Alec Guinness, it is fantastic, and worth watching.

The Fourth Protocol follows a retiring spy who’s investigating a Soviet plan to detonate a nuclear weapon on an American air base. Bonus points, in that the Russian agent is played by Pierce Brosnan. If you want to see how a realistic spy fights, then he’s probably the single best example. That said, it’s been about ten years since I saw this, so I could have accidentally slipped on rose colored glasses. I haven’t read the novel it’s based on.

I’m sadly scratching this one out. There’s actually two different versions of the film. The theatrical cut, and an extended cut that was used for some TV broadcasts. The theatrical cut is a mess, and the extended cut is basically impossible to obtain now.

Although somewhat dated, The Sandbaggers was a British TV series in the late 70s. Though the answer it gives on how their spies fight is “as little as possible.” Historically the show is actually based on how the CIA would task agents, rather than MI6.

Greg Rucka’s Queen and Country is a modern update of The Sandbaggers in comic form. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve already seen Sandbaggers, but if you don’t have access to the show, then this is much easier, and cheaper to find.

Ronin is a mix of formalism and realism. It’s still an action film, but the tradecraft the ex-spies use is remarkably solid. Given that you’ve started with Burn Notice, you should have a pretty good frame of reference to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. Also, I’ll say it again, this is also one of the best films you can watch for car chases, almost every shot in the film was done with stunt drivers on actual streets, and it shows. If you want to get an idea of what a trained operative could actually do with a car, this isn’t completely off base.

Spy Game by the late Tony Scott is a rather hectic mix of realistic elements. I’m more comfortable dropping it here because of how heavily cut together it is, and elements of the film’s plot. This is a very dense primer on tradecraft.

The other mix of realism and formalism is the Mission: Impossible TV series. Not to be confused with the film franchise, the TV series focused on characters actually being spies, infiltrating and manipulating organizations or individuals to achieve their goals. There’s a heavy focus on supplementing their operations with gadgets, but it’s one of the forerunners of the modern genre divide.

AEG’s Spycraft RPG was written so it could be played as either a realistic or cinematic (formalistic) game. It has a lot of resources for both superspies and real operatives. In a rare moment, the character creation system is also useful, as it illustrates the different specialties that are intrinsic to espionage.

Spycraft’s World on Fire supplement is insanely useful, it’s also incredibly hard to find. It was about blending one of the Spycraft settings with the real world, and it has an absolutely staggering amount of information on actual espionage in the 20th century. Unfortunately, a lot of it is mixed in with World on Fire’s six fictional factions. So, it’s useful, but tread carefully.

This one’s also available as a PDF from DriveThruRPG.

If you’re wanting to do a spy story set in a science fiction setting, I’d take a look at The First Line from Last Unicorn Game’s now defunct Star Trek RPG. Be ready to parse the Trek out of it, if your setting isn’t similar, but it does offer some fantastic thoughts on espionage and counterintelligence in a spacefaring civilization.

Finally, the line from Burn Notice, that “Spies are just criminals with a government paycheck” is entirely on point. You’re probably tired of me recommending Heat every other post… So I’ll recommend Payback instead. The lead character is a con artist, not a spy, but the general “messing with people” approach is very spy like. (If you’re digging this up, make sure you grab the director’s cut, it’s actually a different, more consistent, film.)

One of the posts above has our most comprehensive writeup of assassin recommendations. The only overlap seems to be Red, and Ronin, which kind of surprises me. But, anyway.

Recommended Reading/Viewing:

For Your Assassins:

Ronin, I know we’ve plugged this one a bunch lately. It’s not a fantastic film, but it is a fantastic thing to watch to get a look at operational preparation. That is to say, the things your assassin needs to do in order to get access to and kill their target.

Collateral is a pretty good look at both assassin and general criminal psychology. Again, we’ve plugged enough lately you should be familiar with it.

Lucky Number Slevin is a bit off-beat, but the entire film sets up a shell game to hide what’s actually going on. It’s a decent example of someone getting close to the target without blowing their cover.

Hitman: Blood Money is a murder playground. This is one of the very rare times I’ll actually recommend a video game for anything. There’s some seriously puerile elements, but it does basically leave the player with free reign to deal with the environment as they see fit. If you’re wanting to see why someone might try to pass themselves off as a member of the cleaning staff to get into a facility instead of camping outside with a rifle, this might be a good thing to look at.

For Your Investigators:

Elementary,Technically almost any faithful representation of Sherlock Holmes will work, but if it’s not Elementary then your best bet will probably be the Jeremy Brett series from the 80s and 90s. Also, if all else fails, and you’ve never read them, you should probably look at the original stories.

Law & Order is an absolute must view, probably in binges, for getting a feel for your cops. The show is slathered in it’s New York City identity, but a lot of it carries over elsewhere. In my opinion, the series really gets going in the third season, but feel free to look at some of the other seasons for a different mix of Police and members of the DA’s Office. Southland is a decent primer to update you to the current climate.

Homicide: Life on the Street is the unpleasant cousin of Law & Order. Again, you’re looking at street level detective work in the mid-90s. But the show is focused more on the psychological strain of the job, as opposed to the procedural techniques. These shows should really be watched together as two sides of the same coin. I’m told The Wire is the decent update to 20 years later, but I’ve never gotten around to it.

Not So Helpful, But Good Movies Anyway:

The Professional is like most most Luc Besson films, not terribly realistic, but it entertaining and quite good. Jean Reno’s character is, unfortunately, a major part of the modern myth of a professional assassin.

Red, this is actually an adaptation of a comic by Warren Ellis. Keep an eye on Helen Mirren and Karl Urban, they’re good references, and their characters don’t really exist in the comic. Especially the way Urban’s character preps and cleans crime scenes.

-Starke

holmeshounds  asked:

Hi! I was wondering if you had a favorite Table Top RPG. I've played a lot of Pathfinder and a little bit of Fate Core but thats all so far. I want to expand my horizons!

It depends on what you want out of a system. I love FATE because it feels alive to me. I love Dragon Age because the AGE system is so much fun to play. I love Savage Worlds because exploding dice and high-concept pulp action is incredibly fun.

If you are into storytelling, Fiasco and Always/Never/Now are amazing, and so is Mythender.

I know this isn’t especially helpful in a direct way, but I hope something here will spark an interest, and you can go look into one of these systems at RPGgeek or DriveThruRPG or one of the publisher’s own sites.

And remember: A good GM can overcome a bad system, but nobody has fun with a bad GM.

Standard Color

I’m really quite pleased at the high quality of “standard color” pages from DriveThruRPG.

I’d been hoping to offer a softcover, standard color version of Chuubo’s for a discount, but I’d been afraid that it would look crappy and undermine the time that’s been put into layout and art. It won’t. It’ll just look less deluxe.

(Specifically: I stuck together a very rough PDF of “Called Away” on the Chuubo’s page background and with random Chuubo’s art and ordered a proof in standard. It looks pretty.)